Having problems with your dog?
Is he anxious? Over energetic? Both?
Regardless, one doesn’t usually happen without the other, the biggest question on them all is your dog constantly alert, fidgety, always chewing or carrying around a toy, struggles to mind his own business when it comes to neighbours or people passing by?
We haven’t even mentioned what getting him out of the house must be like, are walks easy? You’re reading this so I doubt it.
ALL of this is connected, some deem it puppy behaviour, some deem it too much energy, exercise will fix that.
It goes so much deeper than that guys, there is a reason WHY your training, your hard work, time and energy that you put into your dog is going nowhere, or you see tiny improvements then things frustratingly come to a halt.
You want a dog that can be by your side at home, that can chill out on the couch, not get under your feet, not pester the neighbours.
Not only that but you are an active outdoorsy person, as soon as that sun is out you find any excuse to get outside, but the way that your dog behaves makes it hard taking him out, or you leave him behind left with that icky heavy guilty feeling that if you could both get this right, he wouldn’t be left to sit at home alone, piling onto all the reasons why things are so difficult with him.
Good news it’s fixable.
Bad news is a lot of you guys through no fault of your own are wasting time and energy on certain things just aren’t getting you anywhere.
The 4 sins of working on your dogs behaviour
Isolating and working on fixing just ONE behaviour.
If you’re dog struggles with an off switch, he struggles to relax and rest even when he does he is easily startled and quick to patrol the area. More is going on with your dog.
Focusing on fixing just the barking, just the digging, just the chewing.
Is going to leave you in a management loop, if you don’t fix WHY these problems are occurring you’ll forever be running around trying to prevent it rather than putting an end to it all together.
EXAMPLE – the good ol’ bark collar for barking, now when people tend to use these they do up the environmental enrichment as well – mistakes happen here too and we will get to that in a moment, BUT in regards to the collar.
We think ok dogs barking cause he is bored, I’ll get him working for his food, that will cure the boredom and then add the collar and bam problem solved.
Except you have a dog that is more intelligent than the average bear, and he has worked out when it’s flat he can bark and or when it isn’t on. Now you have to charge the dam thing all the time, and instead of wearing it for short stints in the day, he is wearing it majority of the time.
Certainly not how you planned for things to go down.
Environmental Enrichment to cure “boredom”
So you have deemed that the problems are due to lack of stimulation and boredom. Obviously this is important and you should have environmental enrichment as a daily thing for your dog but here is where people go wrong.
Chances are if your dog is like the dog I described what he is doing is not from boredom but frustration which is most likely coming from a social dynamic issue, I have mentioned before how are dogs are social beings/mammals like us they crave connection. When they don’t receive that reassurance, their instinct kick in and alert them that they aren’t as safe as they could be. That good ol saying there is safety in numbers is absolutely true, this is what kicks in the anxiety.
Problem is your dog is trapped in a yard and doesn’t have the self-awareness you do to sit down at the dinner table and discuss how you could improve the social dynamic in the household.
So what does he do with all that anxious energy? Gets it out the only way he knows how, he is just searching for some form of relief and thankfully hasn’t heard about wine.
Environmental enrichment is great, but it isn’t THE answer.
Another mistake people make is they over complicated it like getting their dog to work for his food through obedience or trick training, this becomes time consuming for you guys, and if you’re not that into it, it kind of defeats the purpose of setting side time with your dog, it would be like spending time with someone staring at their phone even if it’s someone you know loves you, it makes you feel cruddy and unmotivated yourself. THIS can occur in this very situation it can do more harm than good unmotivating you both and quickly become a chore that neither of you enjoys.
Adding to your dogs frustrations.
Obedience work to “settle” the dog down.
People are starting to believe I hate obedience and I don’t when it’s leveraged properly but most people even dog trainers do not know how to do this correctly for these types of problems.
Again like environmental enrichment don’t throw it out but don’t isolate it either, it’s not going to be your magic answer, trust me through hours and years of trying to I wasted way too much time with my dog hoping that one day it would all just come together.
If your dog is anxious or high energy the worst thing you can do is make them be still right in the middle of an adrenaline rush. It needs to play out it’s cycle, there is a healthy way of doing that and the current choice your dog is making whether it be pacing, barking, lunging on leash etc to play out that cycle.
Obedience wont teach your dog how to move through their emotions and outbursts in a better way, it will contain it, and have it build in their system. The opposite effect of what you actually want.
Hiring a training.
Whaaaaat? Obviously, I am all for hiring a trainer, who specialises in yours and your dogs needs.
But you can get this soooo very wrong.
And I have no doubt you know that, I speak to so many of you who have already work with a trainer, or three.
And that is so frustrating!
How I see it and how I have built my business is if I am to work with someone, I want to make sure they are the perfect fit for what we provide, that the work we have them do suits them, their needs, not only fixes their problems but builds their own problem solving skills so that if things pop up in the future – because life happens, they have the ability to make adjustments or reboot things all on their own.
You’re investment in a trainer matters and it should be geared towards setting you up for the long run not just focusing on the now issues, and only working at it on a surface level. Which is what many trainers are doing.
And look if you have a dog with minimal issues that’s great, but what you face is so much more complex than that and you’re the type of person that if you’re in, you’re all in. You don’t do things half assed you don’t like to waste time and effort and only *some* of the answer. If you were going to do that why even bother in the first place right?
Another issue people encounter is mental dumping, they have their first, or even 4th session with the trainer, trainer shows up talks and demonstrates for over an hour then leaves, you think awesome! I can’t wait to try this tomorrow.
You get up, you have forgotten MOST of what they said, you start getting in your own head about fucking things up and on top of that because you and your dog are both in the learning phase of things, it’s messy and awkward but you weren’t prepared for that things looked so smooth and good yesterday, you start feeling like it’s you, like you’re just getting it so wrong and you start to hesitate hold back and think maybe I’ll leave that until I see the trainer next. You however get embarrassed feeling like you are back in school again not having done your homework, you decide to pretend like you did more than you actually did, again everything in that session goes smoothly you feel motivated capable again, trainer leaves and so does your life line, you’re left once again floating on your own.
Let me tell you this straight up.
IT’S NOT YOU!!!
And look it’s not the trainer either obviously they are skilled at teaching the dog they showed you exactly what you’re dog is capable of and they made it look so easy.
They are good.
At teaching the dog.
Not so much.
The way that we are educating owners, IS changing.
Unfortunately though, quite slowly.
Some of us in the industry *cough* myself *cough* can see that way of teaching you is trash, it’s wasting time for everyone and wasting your cash when you could get so much more value if it was structured differently.
Not only is it important your focus is in the right place, that you have the right work going on but also that the format in how you are educated is bang on.
Want to know more about what a better structure could look like for you?
Give us a buzz 0402 943 809
We are always more than happy to jump on the phone and have a chat with you guys x