Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't Telegraph Your Frustration to Your Dog

When Suzie and I were taking dog obedience classes there were several people in the class with dogs they just couldn't seem to handle. The harder they tried, the more they and the dogs became upset.

Getting their dogs to sit down beside them and stay quiet was almost impossible - until our instructor gave us one simple technique. She pointed out that our feelings - vibrations, if you will - transmit through the leash. So the more we become frustrated, the more the dog feels it and becomes frustrated as well.

We watched several people, especially those with large dogs, being literally drug around by their dogs.

The solution: Get the dog to sit or stand beside you, then lengthen the leash and simply stand on it while you hang on to the other end, just in case it slips. When the dog resists, the leash stays firm. And for some reason, your foot doesn't transmit frustration.

The strange thing was - and I think I've mentioned this before - not all of the human students followed instructions. So our ever-patient instructor had to keep reminding them. She also had to keep reminding them to say "good sit" and "good come" and "good walk" instead of "good dog." I think she shook her head and sighed a lot.

Remember to put those treats in your pocket and hand them out generously until your dog firmly learns each new command. After that, you can give them every 2nd or 3rd of 4th time - just to keep him on his toes.

Oh, and don't forget the praise and the petting. Those are darned important, too.

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