Welcome back to the blog! I know we haven't posted anything recently, but trust me, it isn't due to lack of content! We are slammed with dogs and owners that need our help AND we are preparing for the new year. We will be offering new programs, making our current programs better, and MORE. 2019 will definitely be an exciting year so stay tuned.
Anyway, I just wanted to briefly discuss dog training and what it means to have a well trained dog. When can you say "my dog is trained" and when is your dog "trained enough"?
Although many will say that the answers to these questions are personal opinions and depend on the situation, there are definitely a few standards that should be in place for our dogs.
Unfortunately, society's standards for dog training/dog behaviors are diminishing. It is getting to the point that having a jumping dog is the norm, dogs NOT pulling on the leash are hard to come by, behaviors are accepted because he/she is "just a puppy", etc.
I was at an event the other day where people were allowed and encouraged to bring their "well behaved" dogs. There were tons of people walking their dogs around and I can honestly say that most were not well behaved. Everywhere I looked dogs were pulling their owners down the road and I could hear barking almost every few seconds. The sad part, to me, was that most of the owners didn't seem to mind these behaviors at all!
Why didn't these owners care that their dogs were yanking their arms off? Did it not bother/embarrass them that their dog was barking and lunging at everything it saw? I asked myself these questions as I observed all of these dog owners struggling.
Then I realized: It's not bothering them because it is the NORM! Why would a barking dog be embarrassing if everyone else's dog was barking too? Why would pulling on the leash be viewed as an issue if it seemed to be the standard behavior?
As a society, we need to start raising our standard for our dogs behavior. When did we start allowing our dogs to behave so badly and get away with behaviors that make a well behaved dog seem "AMAZING!"?
I take dogs to public places all the time to work on strengthening their behaviors around heavy distractions. I can't tell you how many times that I have brought someone's pet to Lowe's and worked on basic obedience/manners (heel, sit, down, stay, come) and I always get the same type of comments and questions: Is that a service dog? Wow, that is amazing! Are you training for competition? Oh, that's just someones pet?
While I definitely love the kind words and we definitely get amazing results with these dogs, I am always a little sad to hear them. Why? Because it just shows me that our standards are so low for our pets that seeing a dog trained in the basics is jaw dropping to most people. It stops a lot of people in their tracks. People often see me doing pet obedience and think I am training a service dog or a competition dog. I definitely love the attention to the quality of work but I always wonder why it is so amazing to see a dog that knows the 5 basic commands.
I wish that heel (or even just loose leash walking), sit, down, stay, and come were just basic things that everyone made sure their dog knew and could do in public. Society has created somewhat of a cycle where more dogs are behaving badly making bad behaviors the norm and since bad behaviors are the norm, less people are fixing them! This needs to STOP.
We need to break the cycle. We need to educate and empower people to take control of their lives and their dogs. Wouldn't it be nice if it was SHOCKING to see a dog pulling its owner on a leash? Would't it be great if dogs jumping on guests were rare? If we create a world where well behaved dogs and basic obedience was the norm, life with dogs would be safer and much more enjoyable.
Barking, lunging, jumping, pulling, disobeying commands, etc. doesn't have to be the norm for our dogs. The key is educating yourself starting your dog out young, making training a way of life, and being proactive. A lot of problem behaviors and bad manners are preventable if you know what to do when your dog is a puppy. Owners are inadvertently reinforcing bad behaviors, not socializing their pups correctly, and allowing their pups to get away with bad behaviors because "they are just puppies. They will grow out of it." These common mistakes commonly create issues with our adult dogs.
If you want to start creating a new norm for dog behavior and break this cycle start today! Bad behavior shouldn't be the norm. If you need any help, give us a call!