When a professional dog trainer gives dog obedience classes, he is not really teaching the dog tricks. He is teaching the dog owner to communicate with her dog. If you’ve ever gone with a pet to classes like this, you may have noticed how well your dog does when the trainer takes the leash. But once you get your pet home, he seems to lose focus.
This is because the trainer is adept at communicating with dogs. Your dog can’t do what you want him to if he doesn’t know what that is.
A common mistake that dog owners make is assuming that a dog’s brain works like the brain of a human being. These well-intentioned owners will often attempt to correct a dog for something like pooping on the carpet while the owner was at work. Because the dog’s brain works differently than ours, he doesn’t equate the poop with his actions, and won’t understand why the owner is so upset.
If you want to correct your dog in a way that he will understand what you are talking about, you have to catch him in the act. You have to tell him, “No!” while he is actually doing the thing you want done. Even the very second he stops the action is too late. You have to get him with his head in the garbage.
Failure to follow that simple guideline will be paramount to yelling at a stranger in French. Your dog won’t understand you, for one thing, and for another will assume you are a raving lunatic. If your dog thinks you are a raving lunatic, he won’t respect you and it will be even harder to get him to listen, even if you do manage to make him understand.
Another common mistake owners make is unintentionally giving the dog what he wants when he is being annoying. It is especially easy to fall into this trap if your dog tends to demand attention. For example, if your dog jumps up on you or paws at you and you want to get him to stop, yet you tell him to stop or touch him to take his paws off of you, then you are giving him exactly what he wants — interaction. Instead, you need to deprive him of your attention by turning your back on him when you give him a firm, “No!”
The secret to training your dog is simply to meet him where he is. Learn how a dog’s mind works and then communicate with him in a way that he can understand. Learning just a little about dog psychology can open up pathways of communication between you and your pet that you never even knew existed.