Paw Skill by Anna Patfield
Dog owners often wonder why their pets behave in certain ways. The answer to this question is really simple. Dogs do things to make themselves feel better. That’s it! Nothing more!
When scared, they will either run away, fight, freeze, or maybe fool around. When they are bored they can ask for your attention.
If they keep getting angry with people walking by the house, they will chase them away. If they want petting when another dog – or person – is being petted, then they crowd in and demand attention.
Naturally. There are many other behaviors dogs can choose to choose, but the motivation is the same: I feel this emotion and when I act like this, I feel happier, less anxious, less frustrated, calmer, and so on.
So dogs pull on the leash to get there faster. They bark to get your attention or to make someone leave.
They pee in the house because they are scared. They bark at the doorbell to get your attention – after all, we tend to rush to the door when we hear the doorbell!
So why do dogs do things when we keep telling them it’s wrong?
Again, the answer is simple and that’s because they haven’t been in the situation where they can actually learn different behaviors.
Usually we try to teach “in the moment”. We try to teach them not to bark, pull or jump, etc. when they are “in this zone”.
Just imagine that you are learning a new task yourself when you are nervous, angry, or sitting in the middle of a strip of willow! Not easy, right?
Just like us, dogs need a calm and relaxed environment in which to learn something new. And they need practice.
Training our dogs is like rehearsing for a play or a musical performance: practice, practice, practice.
Start with very simple, short tasks and gradually build up the length of time and build up the distractions separately.
Set up scenarios in which, for example, a friend walks past the house or comes to the door so that you and your dog can familiarize themselves with the desired behavior.
Of course, this can be difficult to figure out, and several problems often arise.
So please don’t struggle with your dog’s or puppy’s behavior. Just contact Pawsability.co.uk for help.
Anna Patfield von Ardgay, behaviorist and dog trainer, regularly leads workshops and lectures.