As ridiculous as this statement sounds, you’ve got to consider the approach most people take with their dogs. People who have dogs with issues, which many have, give it a half-assed try to fix it, and when that doesn’t work, they either give up on the dog and let the trouble behavior continue, or they dump the dog at the shelter.
Dumping a dog at the shelter is about the most cowardly thing I can imagine and it only leads to a dogs issues getting worse progressively worse until the dog is killed and dumped in a barrel. Giving up on a creature that lives and breathes and depends on you 100% is BS. I get so upset at the people who say, “I’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to work.” Well, instead of trying everything perhaps you should limit yourself to trying those things that will work. Tossing a hundred ideas around and seeing if one will work is a recipe for disaster. Its almost as bad as giving it a half-hearted approach and then giving up.
For dogs with strong behavioral issues, which are the ones that end up in the shelter, people will give training a “try.” They will generally register at a local pet store or group class and follow the instructions for a week or so. If the dogs progress is not up to their expectations, they let it go. These are the same people who go to the gym for a couple of weeks and when they don’t look like the magazine cover, they get angry at society for marketing beautiful people. Dog training is something you will start to do today and continue until your dog takes his last breath. Its part of dog custodianship and its fun and rewarding for both you and your dog.
Mediocrity is not acceptable when success is the goal.
There is one approach I take with dogs, and that is a fair one. I start all training and behavior issues with a treat and a toy. I look to what the dog responds to and how he responds. I want to see what drives him and how he relates. I do believe in a strong hand with dogs as they respect that. For the feather weight trainers who abhor any corrections, I welcome them to visit the city and county shelters that I work with and bring your treat pouch (and a band aid).
My reason for taking such a strong stand is simple; I do not believe in dominating or hitting dogs, lets be clear on that. However, a firm correction that moves a dog into obedience is fair. Remember, a correction is not abuse, it is merely a direction to move a dog from what he is doing wrong to what we expect of him. For example if we are teaching a dog to sit and he is “not getting it” by use of a treat over his head, we can push down on his backside and “correct” him into the sit. A dog that doesn’t follow on a leash when we lure him with a treat can be “corrected” by using a leash pop when we give him the direction to “follow” or “heel.”
Now if all things were as simple as getting a dog to sit or follow life would be ok. Most of the problem issues come into place when people accept bad behavior from their dogs and don’t correct for it when the problem first appears, be it that they are ignorant to the potential or that they think its cute and it will “probably go away.” This can be as simple as a dog jumping up on people or chewing your favorite shoes, all the way to dominant and aggressive posturing and actions toward people and other dogs.
If we can’t redirect the dog with a treat or a toy is it worth it to give the dog a fair correction or should we just drop the dog at the shelter and give up on him? If that is the case, why not just take him to the vet and kill him ourselves?
Harsh words? Well the reality of it is simple: If you can’t get “your” dog to listen to you or to obey you, or if “you” refuse to give your dog the direction he needs, what makes you think that someone else wants your problem? The dog that puts his head down every night and you are the last person he sees, the dog that wags his tail at your mere presence, the dog that would give his life for you is the one you are giving up on. Remember one thing, he is an animal with teeth and the ability to use them. If you don’t realize this, maybe you should opt for a goldfish as a pet.
Training a dog may take some work. Much like having a child, children require work: we change diapers, stay up when they cry, teach them to walk, talk, etc. Dogs require a certain amount of work. If people could understand that dedication to training, socialization and structure early on could save them a lot of work in the end.
Your dog depends on you – YOU! He has nowhere else to go. If you give up on him, his world has forsaken him, he’s just as well dead. If you can’t take the responsibility of training him, understand that someone else probably won’t either. There are thousands of great dogs in shelters across this country, the dog you messed up and gave up on is not on the top of the list for an adoption. Most rescue organizations won’t take dogs with aggression issues because they don’t have the time to “fix” them. They are over-flooded with the countless other dogs that they are rescuing every day.
If your dog is developing an “issue” research training methods and get to work. I can assure you that an attitude of indifference and strength will go a long way with your dog and will move you along in training and giving your dog a fair chance at a good life.
Black Belt Dog Training