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:
2) Take your time at thresholds – If you get used to waiting with your dogs at doors, crates, you’ll notice that your dog will suddenly be more relaxed and more under control. This can sometimes take a few extra minutes out of your door, but it doesn’t cost you much other than that. If your dog is overexcited on walks (especially at the beginning of walks), then this is a must. Like I always say with thresholds: Calm in. Calm out.
3) Wait for your dog to be calm before you let them eat: If you feed an excited dog, you are playing with fire. Excited dogs can eat too fast and that can cause physical, sometimes emergent health problems. It can also cause behavior problems like food aggression or taking treats out of your hand too hard. Often people will make their dogs perform a behavior before they eat, like sitting or doing a down. This is better than nothing, but the real benefit will come when you try to train a mindset rather than just a behavior. Calm dogs eat. Excited or tense dogs wait.
4) Follow my 2 rules of being good with dogs – 1) Play hard to get and 2) control your space: These 2 rules are related and are effective for many reasons. When you don’t expect dogs to fulfill your emotional needs all the time, your dog can finally relax. Not only that, but they can finally start looking at you to be a leader, rather than an emotional dependent. If you make your dogs work for your affection and you don’t allow dogs in your space without your permission, you’re using common sense and you’re establishing boundaries that will make your dogs see you as a person, and not just a possession.
5) Take one handful of your dog’s daily kibble and use it as rewards for daily obedience training – This is a good minimum to make sure your dog’s basic sit, stay, down, place, come, look at me, etc. stay sharp. If you get bored of those, buy a book that teaches tricks and work on those as a fun challenge for you and your dog.
If you pick up these 5 new, easily adoptable habits, you will change your dog’s life, as well as your own, for the better. Feel free to report back here and let me know how your life has changed after adopting these basic habits of awesome pack leaders.