Do You Repeat Obedience Commands To Your Dog?
How many times have you been out in public and heard…
“Lil Johnny, don’t do that!…I’m serious..Get over here! Get Down from there! Don’t you make me come over there…I’m not going to say it again!” This usually follows with same parent repeating themselves over and over. From there they often just give up and move on as Lil Johnny produces chaos throughout the venue. Or the parent finally gets angry enough to grab him by the arm and yell something like “I told you, not to do that”.
The problem is inconsistency, one minute a push over and the next a tyrant…
and Johnny never knows when the volcano will erupt. He rolls the dice that he can get away with some “fun/naughty” behavior. Mom or dad may never follow through or totally lose their cool. He cannot predict it, but the odds are solid they’ll eventually ignore his behavior and he’ll win. Does that sound like how you Pet Parent your dog? Hold on to that answer for a minute.
For the record I was a model child! My dad was on point with addressing my brothers and I swiftly. No, he never laid a hand on us. It probably helped that he had the size and stature of Grape Ape though…
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I remember getting into trouble once at a family get-together, I was probably like 8 or 9 and the memory is still bore into my brain. No frightening details to share, but he made his point sternly and effectively. One on one “chats” had a way of doing that. You can see why there was never a problem in public, huh?
My mother was the opposite of Johnny’s mother. If she threatened, she followed through; no if, ands, or buts about it! She was very consistent and true to her word. As a child it was easy for me to know that if something was promised good or bad, it was inevitable if I followed on the chosen path. And, for that reason I almost never rebelled. The juice was not worth the squeeze.
Consistency is the key to having a GREAT relationship with your dog!
Humans are all about patterning. Most of us do not even realize we are falling into patterns until it has already begun. These patterns commonly imprint negatively on our dogs! Animals, unlike us, are great at interpreting behavior; they must be. They do not have the ability to verbally communicate at our level. Although we as people are probably regressing in that area. I digress though.
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What typically happens is that we get irritated consistently at about the same time. Right on schedule you could say. For most folks, the magic number is 3; come, come, COME and THEN the person means it. Your dog learns through your behavior pattern that they do not have to listen until about the 3rd command. You are essentially teaching them to ignore you until the 3rd.
Many of you are thinking it is a lot more than three, right?
Once the person reaches that “magic” number 2 things usually happen. Either they get angry and their voice, inflection and body posture changes OR they let the command go ignored with no follow through. Regardless of which way chosen your dog is learning to either wait it out until you give up and forget OR he changes his behavior when he sees the tell-tale signs of anger and irritation.
What is worse is to give a command you cannot enforce…
then ignore when your dog does not comply! Your dog learns with worse behavior comes eventual acceptance. Or they learn if they stay away from you, you simply give up. This is a horrible thing to teach! It is one of those unintentional teaching moments I reference often, so do not beat yourself up. This is a sure-fire way though to make sure your pup is never compliant to your commands. This is because essentially you are teaching them that they do not have to be obedient.
It is also detrimental to teach your dog that they must wait until you are angry before they listen to you. I guess this is better than a dog that totally ignores commands, but it is sad. Heck it is a tragedy to teach your dog they must wait until you yell, threaten them, or physically abuse them for them to have to listen! These are the dogs that often cower and roll over submissively when their owners yell.
How Do We Fix The Problem?
DO NOT give a command more than once. (Unless your dog is old and hard of hearing or you’re pretty sure they didn’t hear you!).
Most dogs are not hard of hearing. Actually, their hearing is much, much better than ours! They heard you and they are ignoring you! Face the music. Do not give them that option. We tell clients to either assist them or make him comply. If they are young or new to the training, help them comply or lure them to complete the task. Then we can reward and build on it. Focus on teaching until you are certain they know what you want in all situations. For example, listening to you indoors is a lot easier than listening to you outdoors. You can always reverse steps and start small.
All dogs go through a stage where they test the commands that you give. I simply make them sit or stay or come by utilizing my leash and not allowing them to make any other decision. Be sure he knows what you mean before you take this path, help them first!
DO NOT give a command you cannot enforce!
This takes practice and work on your regular obedience commands.
Utilize a leash so that you have some form of control if they choose to ignore you. Use positive reinforcement for a job well done! Give your dog a reason to listen to you! “I’m the Owner” does not count. Ask what is in it for them? Put yourself in their paws if you will.
If you are 90%+ consistent with giving commands and making sure they comply on the first command you will see a drastic increase. They will stop testing you and learn listening to you is the only way to get what they want in life!
Celebrate small accomplishments and make sure training is fun! Always end on a good note with a great achievement. Your dog will be excited the next time you want to begin training because of it. Quickly you will be on the road to having a compliant dog that the whole neighborhood envies.
One that can be trusted everywhere you go together on or off leash!