Love Is Not Enough

Love is a term often used when it comes to our dogs. Many pet owners believe that their dog will not love them if its every whim isn’t catered to. With love must come respect. A major problem with dogs today is that their owners love them but may inadvertently disrespect them. On the other hand, many of these dogs lack respect for people, mainly because they haven’t been given guidelines. With proper guidelines in place, unruly dogs become less stressed and more loving family members. So what does love have to do with training your dog? Very little. Clarity, guidelines, kindness and patience are important.

Our dogs need clarity and consistency. There should be praise for what is right and consequences for what is wrong. We’re all clear on what praise is: a tasty treat, hug, ball thrown, and other things our dogs like. A consequence could depend on what your dog did wrong, but can be as simple as stopping the game if he jumps up, or no treat for no sit. Many owners don’t like to use the word “no” when dealing with their dogs, but as a training word “no” isn’t nasty if said in a tone that doesn’t instill fear. Consequences to incorrect behaviour should never be abusive. Instead find a consequence that is calm yet affective and gets your point across to your dog.

The marker to help your dog understand that a behaviour is wrong allows for better communication. If my dog approaches a sandwich on the coffee table, a calm clear “no” will stop him or her in their tracks. I’ve consistently paired a calm “no” with my dog not getting something; soon the word indicated that nothing was coming. In addition to clarity and guidelines, dogs need consistency. If I had let him get the sandwich in the past, because I was busy or it was inconvenient to address the issue, he probably wouldn’t stop when given the command “no”. Most dogs like to please us and if they know exactly how and are rewarded for doing so, they’ll more likely repeat the pleasing behaviour. If your dog jumps on you and you say no and praise when he sits, make sure you praise him double when he runs over and in mid-leap stops and sits down.

Owners are concerned that if they don’t show their dog affection, they won’t love them back. This means that dogs are frequently picked up, cuddled, talked to in baby language, and are often allowed to have their own way. Many dogs take advantage of the situation and their owner. Lack of attention and respect from your dog can lead to excessive barking, growling, and accidents around the house, and in some cases it leads to separation anxiety.

In everyday life respect your dog and have the rules and guidelines set. It may take a while for your dog or pet to learn them but remember to praise them when they do something right and don’t when they do something wrong. Always remember practice makes perfect so work with your dog to keep their temper or attitude down and the love in the high.