I am asked about this often, twice this week as a matter of fact, which inspired this post...
If you contact me for training because you want to modify your dogs reactive behavior; either to people, other dogs, bicycles, or whatever the trigger may be; either on walks, in your home or wherever you may want to take your dog, BUT you want your dog to still guard your house, backyard, or you, I’m going to tell you to pick which one you want, because you can’t have both.
Again, this is for the average house dog. There are dogs that are highly trained in protection, that live in a house with families. Like K9 officers, etc. But these dogs went through obedience training, were balanced, and then were trained to protect. Key word: BALANCED. Prior to protection training, they are calm, they aren’t nervous or anxious or fearful. They have leadership and wait for their leaders to direct them, never taking things into their own hands (er, paws). THOUSANDS of dollars are invested in them to teach them how to turn on and off, what are threats, what aren’t threats, all while giving them a job, structure and rules in and out of the house. They are confident, working dogs.
When the average house dog is guarding you, its house, front door, or yard, it is actually operating out of a form of weakness, not confidence. In most cases it’s one or more of the following feelings: anxiousness, nervousness, stress, fearfulness, insecurity, and it doubts your leadership. If this is not corrected, over time, you are passively training your dog to be reactive beyond your front door; where you want to be able to take it in public and not be reactive. It doesn’t have the ability to differentiate where it should be reactive and where it shouldn’t. This is why you can’t have both.
IF you had a dog that you could direct to be on guard in the house but cool as a cucumber on your street or at the coffee shop, you would have a $10k to $20k protection trained dog, my friend!
Evaluate what you want in your family dog. If you want a calm dog that you can take out in public, walk calmly down the street and trust, it’s time for some training, state of mind rehab (for dog AND owner), leadership and wait for it….it’s time to PROTECT YOUR DOG.
If you’re a past client of mine, you’ve gotten a text update from me on day one of a board and train showing you what I was able to accomplish in my first training session with your dog. I often see a return text like “that is unbelievable” or “how did you do that already?”
You may follow my posts on Facebook or see my before and after videos showing you how on day five I am able to successfully walk a leash reactive or leash aggressive dog past another dog with no issues and you’ve been struggling for years.
Trust me, it’s not magic. It’s practice. It’s a learned skill. It’s a natural ability. It’s leadership. It’s believability. It’s accountability. It’s energy. It’s assertiveness. It’s confidence. It’s reading the dog. It’s corrections with the right timing. It’s relationship building. It’s trust.
After my rehabilitation of the dog, the owner then has to be successful with those same ingredients. That’s where it’s my job to train the owners. I give you the new house rules for the dog. I teach you tone, leadership, posture, commands and tools. But if you’re naturally a soft energy, you will have to work extra hard for a stronger energy. If you’re nervous to walk your dog because of past experiences, you will have to overcome that nervousness. You will need to learn how to read your dog. You may have to fight urges to give too much affection to your dog. You will need to practice, practice, practice to create new, positive experiences. YOU may have to make as many changes as your dog!
Don’t get me wrong, not all cases have so many layers. You may be doing most of the things I referenced. You may have a lot of house rules for your dog but are still experiencing some behaviors that you know could be better. Sometimes it is a little tweak; a little adjustment to what you’re already doing to address those behaviors. But often, it’s much more than that.
There is no magic in dog training but when you are ready to make personal changes, keep up with your dogs new obedience and be patient while building a new dynamic with your dog so that you and your dog finally believe in each other, that is MAGICAL!
Download this app on your smart phone and start tracking your walk. Every time you walk, they will donate to your favorite shelter or rescue. The more you walk, the more you earn!
How's that for motivation!
While on vacation, my husband and I invited Stephanie and Lenny from Breakthrough K9 Training out of Richmond Va. to the beach (Virginia Beach)! We communicate about dog training through the Internet but I finally got to meet them and their dog Dudley in person today. Thanks for joining us!
Eden is a big time lover. But she's very pushy with her affection. I don't want a dog telling me when to pet it. So affection has to be on my terms, when I call her into me. When it's on my terms I can love on her, kiss on her she can put her head and paws in my lap. This is teaching her boundaries and to respect human space. Too much love and affection and not enough rules, structure and boundaries can be bad for your dogs state of mind. This is one way to choose your moments wisely and keep things in balance.
Eden is still available for adoption through Rotten Rottie Rescue. If you would like to meet her please fill out an adoption form at their website.