Sunday, January 30, 2011
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Over the course of my blogs and my training classes, you have heard me refer to the “non negotiable rules” when it comes to human and dog relationships. It occurred to me that while I might give examples and even talk about them from time to time, I have never really defined what they are and why I stress using them so much. With that said here we go.
Non negotiable rules are the behaviors you expect your dog to exhibit every day; not only to instill good manners, but to put you, the human, in a role of leadership. These rules also give us the opportunity to work with our dog, without carving out “training” time each day; instead you just live your life as normal and you and Fido just live by the rules you have chosen. Without even realizing it Fido gets trained without even thinking about it! These rules are also crucial in embedding impulse control in Fido! Based on my observations, lack of impulse control is responsible for roughly 60-70% of all problem behaviors. So, just what rules should you require?
That is a question that you as the “owner” have to come up with! Your trainer can give you suggestions of ways to achieve the goals you have for Fido; but in the end you have to decide what behaviors are wanted vs. those that are unwanted. The fact of the matter is…what I want from my dogs might be totally different than what you want from your dog! This is the main reason I refer to myself as a Pet Dog Trainer rather than obedience or even a plain old dog trainer! My job is to help people successfully live with their pet dog based on what they want and need!
As you are thinking of what your rules will be, let me share with you, my “top ten list” of things I require from my dogs every day. These things improve my dogs’ behavior and keep me in the role of “Top Dog” without having to resort to being a “Butt-Head” to my dogs.
These are my Non Negotiable Rules:
1. Sit and/or Down at every door
2. Sit and/or Down before every meal
3. Sit before leash is put on
4. Ask permission before getting on furniture or beds
a. This means a sit, then being invited up (you make the final choice)
5. Walks only continue if there is no pulling
a. Fido pulls - walk stops until dog calms down and sits; then we will try again
6. Go to crate on command using “go to bed” or “kennel up”
7. Crazy behavior equals no attention
a. If the dog gives any unwanted behavior – I ignore for 2 minutes
8. Dog must have a reliable leave it command
a. Dog should know that leave it means move back and wait for further instructions
9. Dog must have reliable recall or consistently come when called
a. This should work in the house, outside, at the park and yes, even the dog park
10. Dog must stay behind you on stairs, with the “wait” command. This should be used at doors as well. Dog knows to stay behind you until invited to move forward.
a. “Excuse me” or “Back up” is the other side of this coin, where the dog understands to get out of the way for you to move through…
In the end, people find it hard to “make the time” or “be consistent” when it comes to training their dogs! Creating your own list of non negotiable rules and sticking to them fixes both issues.
I’m sure that you are aware of the idea out there, that in dog training we must “rule over”, “be the boss,” or in some cases even dominate the dog to achieve and keep a leadership role. In my opinion, this is not at all necessary and in many cases is “just plain mean.” Leadership, whether with dogs or people, is all about resource control! If I control the dog’s most important resources; food, water, access to my attention or even access to other things he enjoys (like furniture, beds, toys and so on) I will naturally become the leader without having to resort to physical force. In a matter of speaking, this is as simple as relying on your brain instead of your brute! So get out paper and pencil and come up with you own list of non negotiable rules; start using them and in no time you and Fido will be on your way to living a happy, healthy and relaxed life together!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Last weekend I attended a seminar in Des Moines, IA on better ways to evaluate shelter dogs! It was put on by the Iowa Animal Rescue League and was given by Dr. Amy Marder. She is, with many other, folks working on a program to make evaluations more scientific and by definition less subjective for those animals which are being brought into the shelter environment. The real beauty of this program will be an actual numeric evaluation score that will not only help with placing dogs in “forever” homes but as time goes by creating a national database of information on dogs, their scores and trends in behavior as they relate to adoptability! For me this is a welcome and needed change in the dog training and adoption world, where in the past it has been more humanistic and less scientific. I personally think that bringing science into this realm could very possibly revolutionize shelter evaluations and our end goal of finding more homes for dogs in general!
The process is simple, requiring only two people; an evaluator and a handler! As the handler goes through the testing process the evaluator observes and notes certain behaviors. The beauty of the program is there are only two possible answers for the evaluator… Behavior Happened or Behavior Did Not Happen! This removes all grey area from the evaluation process! We are no longer trying to determine the motivation and are concerning ourselves with only the question, “Did the behavior happen or not”. If we take this idea one step further, how handy would it be for all shelters nationwide to have the same scoring system… A person in Kansas talking to someone in Boston referring to a #16 dog and both knowing and understanding what they are talking about? Would this not make transfers of animals or discussing other options, so much easier? Not to mention the unbelievable benefits of having a national database of information to pull from, in regards to trends and certain dog characteristics?
For my money it was a fantastic seminar and I fully intend on talking to the shelters where I volunteer, urging them to take part in this new opportunity! If you want more information you can visit http://www.centerforshelterdogs.com and click the link for “Match Up II” it is the actual evaluation! Within months the scoring aspect of the evaluation will be launched on the website as well! Making the process even easier! For those concerned about the time involved, I might add, we did several evaluations that day and they only take about 15 minutes! Kudos to Dr. Marder and her team for this idea and their efforts in “saving” more lives… Well Done!
- Mike Deathe
Being able to train “any dog” is really not the question to ask. As far as I am concerned, training people is a much more effective way of solving problem behaviors in dogs. What I do is nothing new or magical. I use basic behavior theory, and positive reinforcement techniques to change behavior or teach proper ones to begin with. There are many ways to train a dog and if done right, none are any better than the other. I want all of my students to understand that positive reinforcement is, in my opinion, the best and fastest way to teach a dog. Please take the time to go to my website www.muttzrus.com and look at my blog (keep it simple stupid pet blog) and decide for yourself. You should not make training decisions based off of a brochure; talk to at least three trainers; check out blogs and get references; then make your choice. I hope that in the end you will choose me as your trainer
Mike Deathe is a stay-at-home dad who found his passion as a dog trainer in 2008. He enjoys identifying unique and useful “muttz” related products. He is the author of Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) Pet Blog. Mike has had dogs since he was four years old and there are currently four dogs and two cats living in his home! As an avid pet lover, he regularly sees the number of dogs and cats that never find a home. In 2009, he and his wife Kate founded Muttz “R” Us, a t-shirt and pet product company with a philanthropic motto of “Adopt a Pet, Save a Life.” In 2010 Muttz “R” Us also launched KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID DOG TRAINING! Visit us at facebook or twitter or follow the blog @http://muttzmembers.blogspot.
com/or check out the website @www.muttzrus.com for more details.