Cesar Millan said something that really hit the nail on the head: "There's no knowledge behind instinct."
Behavioural problems occur when we lead our dogs with emotion. We overthink every little thing, try to rationalize their behaviour, plead with them, talk to them like they are human, use their histories or stories as an (unintentionally self-serving) excuse to treat them like humans, instead of simply meeting their current canine needs: Exercise, Discipline (boundaries), then Affection.
It's not until we learn to lead instinctively, with our energy instead of emotion, that our dogs start to follow and respect us.
Dogs are actually very simple. That's why my best clients to teach are children. They are still very connected to their instincts and energy.
As humans, we tend to have a problem with using "touch" to correct our dogs. This is because we often lead our dogs with our emotions. For example, by getting angry and frustrated when they don't listen, or by becoming offended or hurt. OR by feeling bad you might hurt them, or their feelings.
This emotional state of mind is counter-productive to affect change in your dog's behaviour. As is using your voice, e.g. "stop it" or "no!"
To affectively correct the behaviour, you need to communicate with your dog in a way they understand and respect. Use your calm, assertive, un-emotional, energy, and touch, and keep moving.
Your dog isn't trying to upset you. They just can't understand you, and do not respect you, in your emotional state.
Keep Moving Forward!
DOG PARK ETIQUETTE
7 Steps to Prevent Dog Park Mishaps
1. Beans, Beans, and More Beans!
Do not bring your excited dog to the dog park. It is very important that we bring calm energy into the dog park. Excitement can cause competition and fights, as other dogs will naturally want to slow your excited dog down. If your dog is full of beans, take them for a walk to drain their energy before heading to the dog park.
2. Pedestal Syndrome
Do not carry your dog into the dog park. It is important that your dog enters the park at dog-level, no matter what size your dog is. Dogs behave poorly when we put them on pedestals, and your dog is there to socialize with other dogs. If you are concerned for their safety, the best thing you can do is let them stand on their own four paws (or however many paws your dog has), this way they can’t use your affection to nurture or reinforce their unbalanced state.
3. Keep Moving
Find a dog park that has a trail that you can walk around while your dog socializes. It is not natural for dogs to stand in one place. Dogs are migratory animals that prefer to be moving forward. This also lets your dog know you are the leader, you just keep moving and they will want to catch-up. When we stand in a circle at the dog park the energy can build up, this is when playful wrestling turns into conflict. If you want a happy experience at the park, keep moving, this stimulates your dog mentally and physically - which is exactly why you’re there!
4. Pay Attention
It is important to pay attention to your dog while at the park. Be present, and refrain from using your phone. If your dog is doing something they shouldn't be doing, it is your job to correct them. For example, if they are jumping up at another dog’s face, dominating (“humping”) other dogs, or barking incessantly, don’t wait for another dog to correct them - as not all dogs know how to calmly correct without lashing out. Stop the behaviour before it escalates, and keep moving.
5. Benches and Tables (more pedestals…)
I’m surprised I even have to write this one, please keep your dog off of the tables and benches at the dog park. The benches are there for people who are less mobile, and your dog should not be given the chance to sit higher than the other dogs. You may allow your dogs to climb the furniture at home (and that’s another discussion), but if you want to achieve balanced behaviour from your dog, and the dogs around you, prevent your dog from perching on a pedestal.
Refrain from bringing “Chuckits!” and other toys to the park. This type of exercise does not provide your dog with mental stimulation, and is best suited before you enter the park. Ball-obsessed dogs (more often than not) are possessive over their balls. This can cause conflict when other dogs try to join-in or initiate play (by stealing their ball). Toys invite dominance and other behaviour that can interfere with a positive social experience. Your dog could be very friendly with their toys; but other dogs may not know how to interact positively around them.
Having your dog on leash at an off-leash park will cause unnecessary tension in your dog and the surrounding dogs. There are many dog parks that have smaller enclosures inside the large enclosure; I suggest using this space to get comfortable with having your dog off-leash, instead of inviting unwanted interactions which could negatively affect your dog’s experience with other dogs.
Keep moving forward!
Canines Moving Forward
This was Michelle's second Strata complaint regarding the 10 year old dachshund, Duke, and his incessant barking while Michelle was at work. She did not have a lot of time to remedy the problem before fines ensued and barking collars and ultrasonic bark machines were not the answer (especially because of Duke's epilepsy). Treating the symptom of the problem is never the solution to treating the actual cause of the problem. She actually tried the ultrasonic bark machine before contacting me, and it only proved to envoke fear in her other dog. She returned the doggy ear piercing machine and contacted me.
I put Michelle on a strict leadership diet, and she followed it to a tee. Michelle was no longer allowed to talk to her dogs and Duke was no longer allowed to: sleep in her bed, lay on the couch, hover around while she prepared his meals, dominate the walk by marking and barking and pulling, and Duke had to practice being in his own space while she was at home. The results were immediate, he suddenly made eye contact again looking to her for direction, he also stopped following her around the house like a dog shaped shadow.
The first Saturday during her leadership diet, she took her book with her, and practiced being 'away' for short periods of time (just outside the front door). Every time Duke barked, she went inside and corrected him. The bark free time went on longer and longer by hours that day.
Within 3 weeks of being pack leader, the barking had completely stopped. The neighbour was even worried that she had gotten rid of Duke. Michelle is now stress-free, and what's even better is doggy Duke no longer feels stressed out about his owner all day because Michelle took his leadership badge away.
Canines Moving Forward
People often think a misbehaved dog needs 'training'. Training teaches obedience such as 'sit' or 'stay'. While an experienced dog behaviour specialist, like Michael Bylo, deals with the dog's behaviour - creating boundaries and balance in an otherwise obedient (or even disobedient) dog. For example, you can have a dog who listens to all of your commands, but acts aggressively towards other dogs. Such behaviour cannot be corrected with training or positive re-enforcement (eg. treat training or "good boy").
This is where leadership comes into play. A dog behaviourist will look at the dog's routine, amount of exercise, boundaries, discipline etc. More importantly, they will look to see how you, as their leader, handle these situations. They will then teach you what you can do in your situation to correct and prevent the behaviour.
I'd like to share this article by Cesar Millan that touches on this and more:
Leading the pack
"One of the most important things dog lovers need to do is make sure they and their dogs are in tune with each other, with the humans being the pack leaders and the dogs following that lead. Notice I don’t say a dog should be well-trained. It’s very easy to train any dog to “sit” or “shake,” but this does not mean the dog is taking on the proper role in the pack. If a dog is not balanced, then it will go right back to misbehaving once it’s done whatever trick you’ve taught it. If you only focus on training without discipline, then you may wind up with your dog training you, using your reaction to its “cute” behaviour to get what it wants.
Setting the boundaries
I talk a lot about rules, boundaries, and limitations, which we need to create for our dogs to give them a sense of what they’re supposed to do. A pack leader’s job is to provide protection and direction. If you don’t give your dog direction, he or she can become anxious, frustrated, or fearful — and these are three of the biggest causes of common misbehaviours. You can help your dog achieve balance through my fulfillment formula of exercise, discipline, and then affection, in that order. All dogs need all of these things. It’s only the degree to which they need each one that varies with the dog.
Different dogs, different needs.
Dogs come in many different sizes and energy levels, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” rule on how much exercise a dog needs. Your dog needs as much as your dog needs. If you have a high energy Dalmatian, you may find it necessary for both of you to run several miles three times a day, but if you have an older, low energy mutt, then once around the block twice a day may do the trick.
The same goes for the affection part, in terms of feeding. Canine obesity is a serious health issue, so you don’t want to feed that inactive, overweight dog the same amount or type of food as you would a hyperactive greyhound. Consult your veterinarian to determine your dog’s ideal weight, then find the right exercise and nutrition program that will help him maintain that weight. How do you know when you’ve hit the right combination? Your dog will tell you with its balanced, calm-submissive energy— its way of saying “thanks!”for being a strong pack leader." - Cesar Millan
To book an appointment please familiarize yourself with my fees and approach and visit my contact page.
Sara Nielsen (Bylo)