8. Maintaining Control - Controlled Body Language
Make sure that you send the right messages to your dog through your body language. This also includes inadvertently encouraging poor behavior through your knee-jerk reaction to your dog’s bad behavior.
For instance if your dog is jumping all over you to greet you, reacting by pushing him off and yelling at him may not be the appropriate way to reprimand him since it is quite likely that the behavior will continue as he has your attention and finds it fun being irritating.
Slackness is Unacceptable
If you notice that your dog is doing something that could be regarded as poor behavior it is important that you deal with the situation straightaway. Along with this, enforcing and upholding set ground-rules irrespective of the circumstances can go a long way in ensuring that discipline is maintained at all times.
A common example is allowing dog’s to climb onto furniture or feeding him tidbits on the dinner table occasionally. As soon as you slacken he will become confused as to why he is being reprimanded when he got away with it on another occasion.
Altering an over-powering image that your dog might have of you or your family is of special importance if you are dealing with a submissive dog. In such cases, asserting you and your family as the alpha dog can be detrimental since your dog already lacks confidence and is submissive towards you to the point where the dog may become aggressive or overly fearful.
Signs of a nervous or submissive dog are one or more of these:
- He may roll over on his back when you approach him
- He may not look you directly in the eye
- He may even shake and urinate
This is probably because you have been too forceful with him before, or even because it is simply his temperament. In any case the solution is to build the dog’s confidence by treating him more as an equal. For this you can adopt the following methods:
- Have him eat at the same time as the family
- Greet him as soon as you arrive home but not necessarily approach him
- In some cases you could even allow him to join you on the sofa
Patience is required with any nervous or submissive dog. If the scenario does not improve, try giving him more attention. For instance, when you do approach your dog and he rolls over on his back,
- Do not look him in the eye, crouch down to his level and just talk to him.
- Do not reach your hands out towards him, just stay crouching next to him and talk gently.
- Then back away slowly if he does not approach you for a pat, try again next time.
Eventually, with the right training there is no reason why you will not gain your dog’s trust!
Positive Reinforcements for Maintaining Attention
One of the biggest challenges of training a dog to behave well is managing the fact that that they have very short spans of attention. This can be particularly frustrating when you are trying to teach your dog something new.
Here are some ways to help strengthen and increase your dog’s attention span while employing the right body language skills to and well with them:
Practice Name Recognition: Name recognition has been achieved when your dog turns her head because you called out her name. A good way to practice this is to say your dog’s name often and have rewards like belly rubs and walks ready when you do.
Mixing obedience with play: Many dogs love games like fetch and tug. Before throwing the ball or offering the tug toy, give a simple command such as “sit” or “down”, or any other command he might know and don’t play the game until your dog performs the behavior you requested.
This will help teach your dog to notice and respond to you since you are a part of the game as well.
Play ‘Find it’: ‘Find it’ is a game where you toss a treat on the ground and ask your dog to “Find It!” The real trick is to get your dog to look at you in order to get you to throw another treat.
As soon as she does, toss down another treat and say “Find it”. As your dog gets the idea of the game, begin asking her to look at you for longer periods of time.
Teach your dog the “Watch” command: “Watch” simply means “look here”. Begin teaching this behavior by taking a treat and holding it near your dog’s nose. Then move it to your forehead and say “Watch”.
If your dog’s eyes remain on the treat (and your forehead) exclaim “Yes!” and give him the treat. Repeat until your dog reliably watches the treat and then, gradually lift the treat to your forehead and move it off to the side – your dog’s eyes are sure to follow the treat.
Watch for the instant when his eyes flick back to your face and say “Yes!”, then treat your dog.