Friday, July 12, 2013

How Not To Get Your Dog To Stay

You know when someone just has no control over their dog when you see this sort of thing happen.

I know that my own control over my dog is "developing", he's a puppy, but then again...

Well here's the story, see how many training mistakes you can find.

I was walking my dog through the neighborhood on a quiet back street.  There was someone coming around the corner with their dog, an older medium sized dog.   The two dogs begin to meet and are doing quite well, I explain mine is a puppy so I'll hold him back and let the other dog gauge if he's too intense.

Rack absolutely LOVES other dogs, but he gets very jumpy.  McNab Dogs can jump easily 5 feet from a standing stop.  Best not to let him jump.

When we hear a woman shout with a French accent, "No, No, No!  Come Here!  I will have to discipline you" and a wall of other random commands.  

She clearly didn't have control of the situation.

Lumbering toward us was a middle aged chocolate lab.  Clearly obese from the waddle the dog was trying to pass off as a run, the dog had the leash trailing after him.

I lift my own dog up off the ground so I could better control him.  Dogs off the leash can go any which way from sweet to violent, and we've seen them all.

She catches up to her dog who's leash had been captured by the other dog walker.  All the while saying sit, stay, and other things, the Lab had simply been sitting down acting happy to be around his own kind.

The leash is handed to the woman who is struggling with some packages, when she starts to say "I have to discipline you, I have to discipline you, Sit!"

The dog was already sitting, I don't really know how much More it could sit, but OK, it made her happy.

Alternating between "Sit", "Stay", and "I have to discipline you", she got to the front of the dog.  Grasping his muzzle from under, she lightly swatted it.   It was clear the dog knew that it was coming because it visibly flinched from the anticipated touch.

Just as quickly, the third dog walker and I begged off and got out of there.

So here's my take on it.

Perhaps I could have left my own dog on the ground, but he's a puppy with a LOT of energy.   I know that may have over energized the situation, so with three dogs involved, best to remove one from the equation.  He's better every day, but he is a puppy.

The other dog was older and much more calm, although smaller than the rest.   It handled itself well.

The Lab simply had no respect for it's owner's commands.  Seeing it from the dog's eyes, no matter what I do, I'll get swatted on my nose for not obeying a wall of commands.  I'm confused, not sure which one to follow, and from history I know it's not going to turn out well.   May as well just go on and have fun before the swat on the nose happens.

The owner of the Lab was the problem.  Trying to do too much as it was, loading groceries from an early morning run into the towers at the south end of town, the Lab's leash slipped out of her overfull hands.   Probably as she opened the doors to the apartment tower, the dog spotted us and decided to join in the fun.

One command at a time.  Let the dog be a dog.  Swatting a dog or otherwise hitting it says more about your own state of mind than the dog's, plus, let's be honest, it's violence against the dog.  If someone held you under the chin and flicked your nose because you wandered off, you would not enjoy the experience either.  It simply does not mean anything to a dog other than pain.

In case you can't tell, I don't believe in hitting a dog in the case of training.  It happens, but usually because the owner is too freaked out by what happened because they didn't read the signs.  I know from my own experience with two different McNabs, all I have to do is bellow one word, "BAD" and the dog caves in and stops what it's doing.

In my own training, BAD is the Nuclear Option.

There is "The Touch" if you ever follow Cesar Millan's shows.  Looking at your hand, imagine a ping pong ball being grasped by the tips of the fingers.   Fingers are stiff, and the hand is used not to slap but to touch the dog on or near the neck.  The dog's brain interprets it as an Alpha Dog had just corrected it by grasping it by the neck with it's mouth.  The end result is a dog who has its focus brought back to task when they are doing something that they shouldn't.  But even this was inappropriate with the situation since she had long lost control of the goofy chocolate Lab.

There is a need for some remedial training there, well before this dog gets out in public again.  If the dog doesn't come for you, then it doesn't completely respect your authority.  Nurturing Dominance is the goal, not running across a parking lot screaming a wall of incomprehensible commands like SitStayNoStaySitI'mGoingToDisciplineYou all at once.  But Nurturing Dominance takes something most people don't have - Patience.

The trick is to work with the dog before it happens to do something "wrong".  The dog is good at being a dog, but you are asking them to be more.  You have to actually ask them first, before the situation happens.  Gain trust and take the time.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.  It's a lifetime relationship, not a single event.  Take the time and work with them.  After all, you didn't learn how to walk on your first day, it took quite a few stumbles and falls that you forgot about before you could run across that parking lot screaming like a lunatic.

One aside.  If your dog is overweight, you need to walk them more.  Stop overfeeding them, get them out and walk that medium sized dog at least 2 miles a day, large dogs will need more.  You both will benefit from the together time, and the needed exercise.   Who couldn't stand to lose a pound or three?

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