What’s Your Disciplinary ‘Style’?
There’s nothing like a new dog in the house to bring out the inner philosopher in us! Whether our teaching style is authoritative, easy-going, or somewhere in between, this can be tricky territory to navigate within a family setting.
Dogs used to have a more utilitarian role…
Compulsory, correction-based dog training was the only game in town for decades. Actually, having pet dogs in the home is a relatively modern phenomenon. Old-fashioned dog training methods evolved from guarding, herding, game and field hunting, and later military use of canines. Dogs’ roles were fairly rigid and well understood by society. Breeding was oriented more toward function, than form.
It seems like many dogs today have landed on an alien planet…they’re loaded with instincts and energy…and few outlets. It’s as if they’re “All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go”!
Nagging your dog can actually backfire
We used to talk about training household dogs with phrases like: “put them in their place”, “make ’em ‘listen'”, “show ’em who’s boss”. Our focus was oriented toward punishing away unwanted behavior.
A loud voice, knee in the rib cage, leash pop, collar grab, newspaper smack, shaker can, squirt bottle, scruff shake, alpha roll, etc., are all intended as unpleasant consequences. If a dog lives with one person, and they can deliver the “right amount” of punishment (hard to do), with perfect timing (also hard to do), it could result in less of that behavior. However, in families of 2 or more people, punishment used as a disciplinary tool can backfire!
Each person in a household will “punish” the dog differently, because their timing and intensity will be all over the map! Random, variable punishment /nagging for misbehavior is perceived by the dog as wildly inconsistent! This is, at best–confusing. At worst, it’s reinforcing (stimulating)…this means you could get more of what you don’t want!
Using punishment to ‘teach’, isn’t training, it’s crisis-management!
When we actively Engage, Motivate and Train Positively, we initiate an interaction with us. Instead of unpleasant obstacles to overcome, your relationship becomes a series of opportunities for your dog to behave better! Unless we teach them, how could they possibly know what we want? Enforcing “Mystery Rules” turns dog training into a guessing game-nobody’s idea of a good time.
Give your puppy or dog the gift of productive communication! Be clear, kind, and compassionate!
Be an Engager, a Motivator, …and a Teacher.
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