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June 2017

One thing that I've seen a lot of dog owners do and maybe even myself at times is push the dog into something they aren't ready for. So in essence what we are doing is setting our dogs up to fail, which is going to have the opposite effect on what you were after. Now that's not to say we never challenge them or try new things. We absolutely should do that, but at the right time. Just remember every dog is different just like every human is different. How fast one dog did something may not be as fast as the next one. Let's take my personal dogs as one quick example, my GSD was house trained/potty trained by 4 months old. My Labradoodle is 5 months old and still unfortunately has an accident in her kennel over night at times, more than she should. I understand that her bladder may not be as big as my shepherds was, but still I've trained other young small dogs and they held it consistently at night before going home. So if I tell my puppy ok you have one more week and then I'm done trying. I'm setting her up to fail, she's certainly showed me she isn't ready. So what do I do, I keep trying....I keep trying. It's not her fault I haven't stuck to the best schedule in the first place, if I'm being honest. Because we will get it, we will get a schedule and time that works and she will hold it all night. Now on to a more complicated one, let's take this one "my dog doesn't like strangers/friends, but I want him to". Well it depends on several different factors if you can obtain that goal for example age, what is he doing to let you know he doesn't like them, head shyness, avoidance, growling, cowering, barking, lunging, snapping. What is the degree of behavior issue you are dealing with. Is there a history for the dog. Many things go into that, but there is help. Here I go again with that time thing. It takes time, you need to be patient and work through it. Of course proper training for both you and the dog is important too. Say you get your dog trained and he does great for the trainer and he actually does great for you while with the trainer. But once home you see him start to revert backwards but don't really do anything to work on it and then a friend comes over, you expect the dog to be perfect even though you saw some old habits start creeping back up. Then once the friend comes in, he runs or whatever the issue is.
Do you...
A) get the dog and comfort him?
B) put the dog up, you don't have time to deal with it?
C) call the dog back to you and Place him or do a down/stay until whenever?
I can assure you that C is not the most common answer. But that is what you should do. If you knew your dog was afraid of new people and you allowed one to come over and you didn't work your dog through the issue then you set them up to fail, period. You had the perfect opportunity to be your dogs leader and show him the correct way to act and you let it pass or if you soothed the dog then you actually rewarded the scared behavior. By putting the dog up you let the dog avoid the incident. You always work them through a problem, you don't baby it, and you don't ignore it, you work it out. Now maybe your dog is aggressive or has severe anxiety and for the safety of others you may want a leash attached, but you still work through it. A clients dog used to be head shy in public, well now she loves to go somewhere because she knows it's fun and safe. Because if the owner sees her get nervous when someone approaches they simply tell her to sit or down and tell the person sorry you can't pet her, she's in training. Which is true, you never stop training or teaching your dog, never! Their brains are like sponges constantly soaking up information around them. So this dog isn't a nervous/pulling wreck of a dog because the owner is there, they are her advocate. They make progress and she becomes calmer more at ease and eventually lets a new person pet her. But it's not an over night fix or even a week or month fix for some dogs. But they can learn how to behave for us their owners/leaders. We are our dogs advocates, let me say that one again, we are our dogs advocates, they can't talk but they can show signs of annoyance, mad, scared, anxious, nervous, avoidance, or happy. If they try to show us or clearly tell us something is wrong or they aren't comfortable and we ignore it, and don't work through it, work up to it, then expect them to do what we want and they don't and it goes bad, then we just failed them. So don't avoid problems with your dog, don't lock your dog up, don't comfort or carry your dog, be their leader, and show them the correct way to do something. If it's something that is out of your hands then call a trainer, please it's our job we want to help. But stop expecting your dog to be perfect or never mess up if you haven't even done the leg work yourself. Whether that's working out a bathroom crate schedule or working on obedience to gain control of a bigger issue. Do something, because both you and your dog deserve the chance to be at peace and have freedom.

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