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  • My dog Will sit but she's not a really well behaved dog?

    19 August at 17:55 from atlas

    By Cesar Millan

    A lot of people think that I'm a dog trainer, but that's not what I do. I'm a dog behaviourist, which means that I rehabilitate dogs, and I train people. It's an important distinction, and one that can be hard for people to understand.

    "But Cesar," people say, "You get the dog to behave. Isn't that the same thing as training?"

    The short answer is, "No." Now here's the longer answer.

    I've seen very well trained dogs that still had behavioural issues. These dogs could do a lot of tricks, like sit, shake hands, roll over, or fetch — but still chewed up shoes and furniture, still barked non-stop, and still pulled on the walk.

    The purpose of dog training
    Training is meant to teach a dog to perform a specific task when given a specific stimulus. It's the process of associating, say, a word with a behaviour. The most common form of training is positive reinforcement. If the dog does the trick, the dog gets a cookie.

    A lot of dogs are willing to do anything for that cookie. With enough repetition, you can even get the dog to do the trick without the reward. You say "shake" and they raise their paw. It becomes second nature.

    Dog behavioural issues
    What dog training does not do is solve behavioural issues. I'm sure many of you reading this have had the experience of calling your dog to come to you — something you've trained them to do — but they ignore you because they see a squirrel, or the mailman is invading the dog's territory, or something else has their attention. In these cases, the training goes right out the window.

    If you remember the TV show "Lassie," you know that it starred a collie that did all kinds of amazing tricks, guided by a trainer just off-screen. That's one well-trained dog, right? And yet one of the dogs who played Lassie, a male dog named Pal had several behavioural issues, including barking and chasing motorcycles. His owner and trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, was eventually able to deal with the barking but never broke Pal of his motorcycle chasing habit.

    So one of the most famous trained dogs in the world still had behavioural issues because training a dog does not address the issues that actually cause misbehaviour.

    Dog rehabilitation
    In order to rehabilitate a dog, you need to figure out what it is in the dog's environment that is causing the misbehaviour. Are they bored? Frustrated? Overexcited? Fearful? If you don't deal with those issues, you can have a well-trained dog that will sit on command and still be completely bored or frustrated and so on.

    The biggest factor in a dog's environment that affects its behaviour, though, is the energy of the people around it. As I've said and written many times, our dogs are our mirrors. They reflect back the energy we give them, and if we are not calm and assertive they cannot be calm and submissive.

    People training for dog rehabilitation
    This is why I say that I rehabilitate dogs and train people. The people training comes into it as I show humans how their energy is affecting their dog, and then how to change that energy to get the desired behaviour. I also train people how to provide whatever the dog is lacking in order to fulfill the dog's needs and bring it to a calm, submissive state.

    In a lesson I run recently I used  a herding dog's natural instincts to stop her destructive behaviour — but I didn't have the humans actually use herding to do it. This is where the "behaviourist" part of what I do comes into it. If you want a well-behaved dog, you need to have a happy and fulfilled dog through exercise, discipline, and affection.

    Stay calm, and behave!

    Because of their nature as social pack animals, dogs want us to tell them what they're supposed to do. Their goal is to help the pack survive, and they do it by following the pack leader. It's the job of the pack leaders to provide protection and direction. Establishing and enforcing rules, boundaries, and limitations is how they provide direction to the pack.

    ' Rules refer to what a dog is and isn't allowed to do: Stay off of my bed but sleep on yours; don't jump on people; don't pull on the walk.

    ' Boundaries control where a dog can and can't go: The baby's room is off-limits; don't go out the door until I say so; you can only enter my personal space when I invite you. Boundaries are about claiming territory, and they teach your dog what is and isn't his.

    ' Limitations control the length or intensity of an activity: We stop playing fetch when I say so; you're too excited, so it's time to return to a calm and submissive state with a timeout.

    Rules, boundaries and limitations can keep a dog from misbehaving because they give her something else to do. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, create a rule that she has to lie on her bed when you're getting ready to leave. This will keep her from becoming excited because she associates the bed with being calm and submissive. She will stay in this frame of mind when you leave. If your dog is an obsessive beggar, create a boundary around the table, constraining the dog from approaching while humans are eating.

    Because our dogs want to please us, their Pack Leaders, our approval becomes the positive reinforcement they need. We just have to be clear and consistent with what we want. Creating rules, boundaries, and limitations and enforcing them provides that clarity and consistency for our dogs.

    So how do you create that barrier? Here are five tips.

    1.  Claim your space
    If you've observed dogs interacting, then you've probably noticed how they claim their own space. They do it physically, with body language and energy, and can get across the message "this is mine" without resorting to barking or showing their teeth.

    A dog claiming a food bowl or toy will stand above it, often leaning its head down protectively. A dog that wants to claim physical space from another dog will just walk right into her and push her away.

    To claim your space, you have to do the same thing, by controlling access to it with your body. If you don't want your dog to walk through a doorway, stand in it. If you don't want them on the couch, stand over it.

    2.  Take the lead
    To help give your dog boundaries, you need to emphasize that you are the leader, and a great way to do this is by creating the rule that you always go through a door first. You may need to start teaching your dog this with him on-leash, making him stop and wait at each threshold. After you go through, then you invite him to follow.

    Of course, the best way to be a Pack Leader is to give your dog exercise through the walk several times every single day, and teaching your dog to wait at doorways is a great way to help him learn how to follow you on the walk.

    3.  Teach your dog to wait
    If you've taught your dog a trick like "shake," then you've probably experienced this: once your dog has mastered the trick, she might start doing it as soon as you reach for the treats. In this case, you need to retrain your dog to not do the trick until you ask, even if you're holding the treat right in front of her.

    When a dog starts to anticipate, it means that they think doing the trick makes you give them the treat, so you need to teach them again that it's the other way around: you offering the treat makes them do the trick. To retrain them, whenever they start to do the trick before you've said okay, pull back the treat, and only offer it when the dog doesn't show any sign of anticipation until you give the signal.

    This will also teach your dog to look to you for the signal that it's okay to do something instead of just acting on her own, building her trust and respect for you. This in turn will help her learn how to respect the boundaries you set.

    4.  Correct at the right time
    As with all other dog behaviours, the key to creating the boundary is proper timing in correcting your dog when he crosses it. If you're trying to teach your dog to stay off of the sofa, it doesn't do any good to come in and correct him while he's on it.

    He won't connect the correction to being on the sofa. Instead, he'll connect it to whatever state of mind he's in at the moment. If you correct him when he's calm, you'll just create a nervous or excited dog.

    The time to "Tsch!" or give whatever signal you use is right as the dog is about to commit the improper behaviour. In the case of the sofa, it's the instant he starts to jump on it. This will connect the correction to the action and firmly establish in your dog's mind what he's doing wrong.

    5.  Be consistent
    Once you determine where your dog is and isn't allowed, you need to be consistent in two things: one is maintaining the boundary. The other is being consistent in exceptions. If you decide that your dog can get on the sofa this time, it clearly has to be at your invitation — this is similar to teaching the dog to wait, in that it reminds her that you decide when to invite her into the territory but she is not allowed to invade it.

    Also, every human in the household has to enforce the same boundaries. If anyone doesn't do this, it will just confuse the dog. Or, worse, it will make the dog think that the person who isn't enforcing the boundaries is subservient to her.

    Dogs look to their Pack Leaders for protection and direction. Giving them boundaries is a great way to provide the latter by letting them know where they can and cannot go.

    www .cesarsway .com well trained but not well behaved.


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