A structured walk is the backbone of your relationship with your dog. And for your dog, it is the most important part of his day.
For dog owners, there is nothing worse than when you are out in public and your dog lunges, barks, or aggresses towards another dog or person in any way. Many people see this and instantly judge you as a bad dog owner walking around with a dog that isn’t safe.
For many, when this sort of thing happens, right or wrong, they give up. At the end of the day people want a dog that can walk side-by-side with them in their lives and going through something as embarrassing as a wild, bucking, dangerous looking dog while your neighbors look at you and judge everything you’re doing wrong wasn’t on the menu when you picked up that puppy or that rescue dog at the shelter
Firstly, positive dog training is great. Dogs should have fun doing their work and the more fun they are having, the sharper you can make their obedience look. With the breakthroughs in food / reward training, competition dogs look far sharper today than they did 30-40 years ago.
That’s a fact. That’s why you see me often using food, positive energy, and enthusiasm when I am training a dog.
The big HOWEVER here is the fact that we need to separate that simple fact from the army of trainers who sell their services using common marketing terms like “all-positive,” “science-based,” “rewards-based” and other terms designed to make you feel good about buying training services from someone who eagerly wants to sell them to you.
It’s really a genius sales pitch. Why use “harsh” or “outdated” tools when you can get the same, or even BETTER results having nothing but a good time and saying "yes"? Why do people continue to prefer trainers who take a balanced, all-encompassing training approach?
When I was young, I had a boss at work who was helping mentor me to the next level of my career. I was working at a big company with tons of employees and he gave me some life-changing advice – make sure you say hi to everyone when you walk into the room, ask how their day is going, smile at people – the basics of being a good human.
It’s easy when your life is fast-paced and hectic to forget those little drops of positivity that you can give the people and dogs in your life throughout the day.
My boss was more strategic than just being a nice guy, though. He knew that because I was in a leadership position, I needed to build a bank of good will for when I needed to have the more difficult conversations. The way he explained it was that every “hello” or “how are you doing?” was a teensy-tiny deposit in the good will bank and you needed plenty of good will in the account when you go to make a withdrawal.
Well as dog owners, you too are in a position of leadership and it’s nice for you to know this rule as well. The same rule applies to your dog.
If you personally are feeling stuck in a rut, or you’re not happy with your life, the best thing I can tell you is that if you change your habits, you will change your life. That simple advice has always worked wonders for me.
Habits are tricky things because good ones are hard to form and bad habits seem to form almost effortlessly. The good news is, once new good habits are formed, they’re hard to break and your life will be changed forever. Just remember, when you started brushing your teeth as a kid you probably hated it and resisted it every step of the way. Today as an adult, hopefully, brushing your teeth is just something you do without thinking about it – with no resistance. I can say with certainty that you are much healthier and better off for conquering your original apprehension.
When it comes to being a good pack leader for your dogs and your family, the same rules apply: If you change your habits with your dog, you will change your dog’s life.
Here are a few simple habits you can add to your life to make your dog’s life exponentially better:
Most dog people I meet want their dogs to be happy and successful. I usually focus on that and try to avoid the seedy underbelly of dog politics, but not presenting you dog lovers out there with the facts is going to end up being detrimental to the dogs we care about so I must speak a little bit about what is happening in governments across the world and now here in the US.
Recently in Toronto, a new rule was snuck into the by-laws of the city of Toronto, Canada. The city decided to ban the use of prong collars and slip chains (often referred to as choke chains). Luckily, thanks to the tireless work of organizations like the International Association of Canine Professionals the rule has been temporarily repealed while they gather more information.
Worse yet, in Hillsborough County and the state of Florida, a powerful lobby is pushing legislation that basically mandates an “all-positive” approach in dog training.
There is a growing movement of a loud minority of trainers and animal rights activists who are well-intentioned, but misinformed about the benefits and drawbacks of such “aversive” tools and if the rest of us remain quiet, then we’ve got a dire situation for all the dogs we care about on our hands.
This week here in Indianapolis we had a doozy of a storm. My dogs don’t care a bit about storms, but my wife certainly gets worked up about all the lightning, thunder and high winds that seem like they’re going to rip your house off its foundation.
Many dogs out there have storm phobia far worse than even my wife does. They might hyperventilate, pace, whine anxiously, or even get destructive. If that’s the case and a storm is coming, take a few steps to help ease your dog’s anxiety
And if you have a young dog who isn’t bothered by storms, not so fast – you’re not out of the woods yet! Storm phobia is often a phobia that is born later in a dog’s life – sometimes not showing up until they are 4 years of age or older. So you might want to pay attention too.
Here are 4 drug-free ways to ease your dog’s storm anxiety:
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but love remains in the air. While most of us are primarily concerned with loving those special humans in our lives this time of year, we of course have plenty of love to share with our dogs.
From my experience with clients, friends, and family, there is no shortage of love when it comes to people and the dogs with whom they share their lives. People show this love in all sorts of ways – buying their dogs $600 dog beds, cuddling with them in bed, playing a game of fetch, and a bunch of other ways – hopefully not by buying them a box of chocolates, though!
Loving our dogs is a good thing. However, sometimes well-intentioned humans show that love in a way the dog either won’t notice or understand or in a way that will make the dog’s life and mental balance worse for the wear.
So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to give you 5 ways to show your dog that you love them that they will definitely appreciate!
So often I get calls and e-mails from owners who can talk for hours about their situation and how bad it is. They list the problems they are having, but they just as well could say they are having every dog problem ever written about.
These cases, and most problems, should start back at the basics, and when that’s the route you take, suddenly what was once unmanageable and infuriating will become much more relaxed and hopeful.
So if things seem overwhelming and you are looking for how to get things going in the right direction – start here:
Summer is coming and I’m getting several requests from people to help get their dogs ready to hang out on patios at bars, breweries, and restaurants.
In my world, dogs go everywhere with their people. It’s natural for the pack to stay together – unfortunately, that’s not reality for dogs in our world. Bars, breweries, and cafes are the exception to that rule – but only when the weather is nice.
So more than likely, your dog is out of practice, or being in a public establishment is a skill they’ve never developed.
Here are some tips to help your dog become the coolest guy at the bar.