As many of you know, I’ve spent the last three years focused on dog training and coaching humans regarding dogs. During this time, I’ve had the unique opportunity to split my time between dogs who are owned and loved and dogs who are between homes. This has allowed me to work with dogs who are struggling with problem behaviors, adapting to new environments, or just trying to get their parents attention.
Over this time I have met, assessed and developed training plans for hundreds of La Plata County dogs. So over the last two months I decided to analyze that data and see what common themes there were – what it was that our dogs needed to know. By looking at all the information I’ve gathered, shared and worked through, I’ve been able to boil it down to:
Basic Manners is for both of you – for you to learn how to teach your dog any behavior you want; and how to put basic behaviors on demand. This involves communication building, understanding basic dog body language and teaching dogs coping skills. When complete your dog should understand the names of basic behaviors, that you want them immediately when you ask and that they should hold the behavior until they are released.
Advanced Manners help to make your dog sound in public and around people, which can often be unpredictable. In a nutshell, it’s doing all the basic behaviors over and over and over again in different settings, with different dogs or people present and in different conditions. When complete your dog should be responding 100% of the time with or without challenges present.
Advanced Recall– dogs need to run, exercise, play, explore – LIVE! That happens off leash; but in order for a dog to be given the opportunity to be off leash, they must have a great recall. Coming when called can be especially difficult for dogs which is why we must teach it from basic through advanced training. When complete your dog should be responding 100% of the time no matter the circumstance.
This is basic formula of Core Competencies that I believe every dog and owner should work on to achieve a fun and rewarding relationship, rather than one of stress, struggle and heartache.
But of course, not all dogs fall into a mold. There are two more focus points I’ve found – for those dogs who are either a bit more stubborn, more independent or just young and arrogant….
Dog Reactivity – This is by far the biggest complaint we get at the humane society and that I get in private practice. Having a dog lose his mind or act ridiculous in the presence of another dog is not acceptable (or polite!) Some dogs need coping skills and working on dog/dog reactivity is a great way to give these to your dog (along with a number of other tips and tricks!)
Leash Manners – This is the difference between a dog getting even the minimum amount of exercise or none at all. It is imperative that both dogs and their people have the skills, tips, tricks and success strategies to make walking together fun, relaxing and most of all, manageable.
In 2017, I’m going to focus my attention on these specific areas in an effort to bring you the information and tools you need to implement this formula easily and seamlessly into your lives. You’ll be seeing additional resources, tools, videos and training tips as we delve into dogs and specifically the core competencies they need to not just survive but flourish in today’s society.