daily. You’re much more relaxed and comfortable around those whose mood and energy are consistent than those whose are not. I want my dogs to expect the same me every day and not have to wonder what kind of person they’re going to be dealing with that day. Posture. Just like our energy, dogs can pick up on our posture very well. They know when we’re confident and when we aren’t. This past fall I worked with a student and one of our dogs. The student had very low self-esteem; you could tell by the way he carried himself. It was amazing to see the effect this had on the dog. It was even more amazing to see how the dog changed as the student became more confident. As the student became more confident, the dog relaxed and became more confident, too. Approach situations with confidence, and your dogs will
trust you and seek your leadership. Rewards. When rewarding good behavior, the more consistent you are, the quicker your dog will learn. The tone in your voice, the way you deliver a reward, and the energy you exude all make a difference. For instance, I like to say “good” before rewarding a good behavior. It’s important that I say “good” with the same tone and at the right time, and follow up with a reward consistently. As training progresses, you may change how you reward your dog, but if you are consistent it will be an easy transition for your dog. Discipline. Discipline works the same way as rewards work. When and how you correct matter. Let’s say you ask your dog to sit and he does not do it. If you let it go, but correct him next time you ask him to sit and he does not, there’s no consistency. Your dog doesn’t know what to expect. I try to make sure that if I don’t get the
response I want the first time, I correct it right way. Also, I want my corrections to be the same. Often, I’ll say “no” followed by a light correction. Becoming angry, frustrated, lashing out, and holding a grudge does nothing. Instead, correct him with the same word, tone, and correction —then move on like nothing happened. Schedule. I like my dogs to have a routine. While not every day can be the same, at the very least I try to feed my dogs at the same general time every day. Knowing when they can expect to eat creates balance for them. None of us are perfect leaders, but we can all improve. The more consistent we can be with our dogs, the more consistent our dogs will be. Hopefully this will create happier, more confident dogs and ultimately a better relationship between them and us.
64 • NBS OUTDOOR • Fall 2020
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