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Being a Proactive Dog Owner

  • 21 September 2018
  • jgreen

At the end of the day, there are only two types of dog owners: proactive and reactive. One type sets their dogs up to live their best, happiest and healthiest lives and the other keeps their dogs stuck in their anxiety, fear or bratty, entitled and sometimes even dangerous behavior.  It’s really up to you as their human, their leader and their guide to living in the domesticated world with another species to decide which kind of dog you will tolerate in your home.

As with anything worth doing- pursuing a passion, climbing a 14er, raising great kids, moving up the career ladder-things go much smoother when you put in the hard work upfront and reap the rewards down the road.  The same goes for being proactive when it comes to how you interact and live with your dog. 

What happens when someone knocks on your door?  Do your dogs stay calm or start barking their heads off? Are you able to quiet and calm them down immediately on command or are you playing goalie trying to keep them away from the door? Do your dogs really believe you when you tell them to do something or do you have to repeat yourself over and over again?

But how do you make the leap from reactive to proactive dog owner?  Life with your dog can be so much more fulfilling and calm when you institute a few boundaries for your dogs and hold them to it.  If you start anywhere- start with teaching the place command.  Watch the video here for a step by step guide to teaching place. The place command is way more than just a dog staying on his bed.  It’s about calming down your dog’s state of mind. Something truly magical takes place when dogs are able to just hang out in one spot without the need to follow their human around or bark out the window at every passerby.

Below are a few more ways you can improve your relationship with your dog:

1. Make things super clear to your dog what they can and cannot do. Consistency is key.

2. Don’t let those cute little eyes rule the house.  Instead, those cute little eyes should be looking to you for direction-before food is served, before you walk out the door for your walk and before being released from the crate.

3. No more free-feeding!  Typically we feel much more satisfied when we work for a paycheck.  Dogs feel the same way about their food. Make them work a little harder for it and improve your relationship along the way- they enjoy the “hunt” even if it just looks like learning tricks for a few pieces of kibble at a time, rolling a treat ball around or practicing the come command.  Your dog wants to be engaged and challenged.  Have a little fun with it! 

4. Crate your dog.  Yes, even if they don’t destroy anything when you’re not home.  The crate allows you to provide your dog structure when you are not able to, thus creating a happier and calmer dog.

Start with these suggestions and build from there.  In my own experience, the embarrassment caused by my dogs rushing the door or sniffing my guests private areas or the fear of seeing my dog run across a busy street is enough of a motivation to do the hard work upfront and spend a little time each day training them on new things AND keeping them accountable to what they already know. 

The real key to long-term success is to find your “why” of keeping up with training.  When you think about your dog’s behavior- what is it that makes your shake your head, or cry in frustration or feel like throwing in the towel? Keep that feeling in the back of your head and how you want to never feel that way again when you want to skip a session or let them get away with something “just this once.”   Then, think about what it would look like to have your ideal dog and let that be your driving force for all the day to day moments.  After all, those slow and steady consistent day to day moments are what makes the biggest difference in the long run.

You really can have the dog you always dreamed of.  Be proactive and watch the magic happen.

-Laura Weisman, Founder of www.Finnfamilydogtraining.com