I'm back from Blogher and I do apologize for not posting sooner, but my family recently suffered a huge loss and that's taking up all my mental energy. But I want to keep this blog going and the best way to do that is to just write something.
So, here I am. Writing.
I know I owe some answers to the questions you have already sent me, and I'll get to them very soon (and please keep them coming!), but until then I'll let you into one of the biggest secrets of dog trainers.
Are you ready?
There are no secrets. No, really. We dog trainers tell you guys everything we know. Dog training is not rocket science but you do have to open your eyes and take in the bigger picture. And you have to see things through your dog's eyes.
(Go ahead, get down on all fours and have a look around. I'll wait.)
For instance, one of the most asked questions in my class is "How do I get my dog to stop grabbing things off the counter?". And my answer: "Stop leaving things on the counter." I'm not trying to be a wise guy, I'm being completely serious. The first time that your dog smells something yummy on your kitchen counter and then swipes it when you're not looking, he's hooked. That counter is now a source of good things. Instant gratification. The same goes for dogs who chew shoes. Stop leaving your shoes out. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
I've said it before and I'll say it a million more times before I'm done: people are oftentimes the source of their dogs worst behaviors. Chewing, digging, jumping, barking, food snatching - these are all things that dogs do inherently. We, as their owners, want them to stop doing that but sometimes we're not willing to change even a little bit to accommodate the darn dog. Not that I want you to change your life completely for your dog. Oh no. But I do want you to put aside a little of your old life for them. And I, and all the other professionals dealing with canines I know, want you to teach your dog the proper way to behave in your home. Sometimes that means surveying the landscape and looking for the pitfalls before they happen.
(Are you still down on all fours? Good. Stay. Good reader. Have a cookie.)
Another thing I say, ad nauseum, in my classes is: It's easier to teach a correct behavior than it is to undo an incorrect one. Going back to the counter surfing scenario, once your dog has snatched a nice juice steak off the counter he's hooked. However, if he never knew that nice juicy steaks were on the counter for the snatching he might never have picked up on that behavior.
And then there's the Leave It command, but that's the subject for another post.
So, there you have it. One of my un-secrets of dog training. Stop the behavior before it starts. That'll be fifty bucks.
Just kidding. You can thank me later.