Be all you can be

Who’s the lazy dog in your house?

Fido… Come… Sit
By Yvonne Passmore

As much as we love our dogs, and as much as we love having them in our lives, just like others that we love, they make mistakes. Now, it could be argued that we have made the mistakes and our dogs are just reacting to our actions. Your dog only knows what you want by you showing him what you want. Too often we just expect our dog to do as we say, or we expect that after all these years s/he should know what we want from him.
None of my dogs are the Amazing Kreskin. For some reason I think we all expect dogs were bred with mind-reading skills because we all fall into the trap of telling our dogs to do things that they have no clue about. I don’t expect my dog to stay just because I’ve said the word ‘stay’. I expect my dog to stay after I’ve gone through all the methodical and sometimes tedious steps of teaching my dog to stay. My Great Dane doesn’t understand what the word ‘move’ is when he’s standing in front of the TV, but he does understand the commands ‘come’ or ‘go lay down’ which accomplish exactly what I need him to do when he interrupts my viewing of “Desperate Housewives”. Despite this, my husband insists on telling him to move and both he and the dog get frustrated. If I wasn’t so frustrated by listening to him constantly telling my Great Dane to moooooooove, I would be amused by the dazed and confused look they both have on their faces.
Then you have the situation when we tell a dog to do something but we never follow through. It’s in these cases that you create a dog that will give you a blind eye and selective hearing. Many times I hear from dog owners that their dog knows what is expected but only responds correctly some of the time. Some find that amusing and even admirable. A dog with a mind of its own. Some blame old age, stubbornness or independence. These aren’t traits or qualities; these are excuses. That is a dog that needs more training and an owner who needs to understand how to follow through. Dogs like this are born only out of laziness. Before you think you’re off the hook, the lazy one is the dog owner.
Correcting this problem is simple. Mean what you say and say what you mean. All that means is that if you’ve instructed your dog to sit and s/he lays down and s/he gets a pat or treat for that, you’ve shown him that you don’t mean what you say. If you’ve called your dog to ‘come’ and s/he’s moved a few steps and then sat down, or s/he’s walked past you, then you haven’t completed or followed through with that ‘come’ command. Does this mean you punish your dog? Probably not. It means that you may need to go back to the drawing board and do a little retraining to sharpen up the skills of both you and your dog.
As much as people hate to hear it, training and motivating a dog is all based on reward. The better the end result is for the dog, the better his/her response will be. A dog responding to you for the sake of love and respect may come to you eventually, as long as you teach your dog what you expect in a positive manner.
Take the time to actually show, explain, teach and train your dog to be all that s/he can be without enlisting in a boot camp.

You can contact Yvonne through her website, for comments, column suggestions, questions and for Fido…Come…Sit book information.