5 Important concepts to stopping any unwanted dog behaviour!
Control your environment
You can’t train a dog when they are out of control. Sounds obvious and yet this is one of the most common and most serious errors to make. Once a person lets their dog off the leash who does not listen then we may as well sit down and wait for them to come back. They are now out of your control and any shouting will simply stress everyone out. In this case, the long line allows me to keep control of Aston whilst he is going through the training phase. It won’t be required long but it is essential from the start to prevent unwanted dog behaviour from forming.
Know your goal.
With Aston, I had a very clear picture in my mind as to how I wanted him to behave. It was simple and clear and I kept my mind on it. Very often we enter a situation not knowing what we are really trying to achieve. We focus on “trying to stop the jumping” rather than getting Aston to sit and wait for a second. Knowing what you are aiming for is a simple but crucial concept.
Work with Nature not against it.
A dog like Aston is always going to want to run and play ball so use that to your advantage. If you get him to understand that all he has to do it sit when you tell him and the ball is his he will most likely accept this as a good agreement and do as you ask. If on the other hand, you try to simply not ever let him have the ball you will be setting him up to fail and he will no doubt try even harder to get it back off you. It’s like anything in life, look for the win-win solution.
Calming your dog down.
In many situations, dogs are in simply too excited a state and need to calm down. To achieve this it is no good shouting “calm down, calm down!” Instead try the stop, start, change direction routine where you attach a short line or pick up the long line and walk around for a minute or two. When you do this in a calm manner you are taking control of your dog and projecting calm energy. Once they calm down you can carry on the training. It is simple but effective.
Often when I am working with owners they keep pushing their dogs more and more until the dog fails. Then they turn to me and ask what to do! This is where it is so important to understand the concept of baby steps. With Aston, I only asked him to sit for a second before I threw the ball. I was setting him up to win. Had I waited for 10 seconds he would have no doubt jumped in my face and we would have gone backwards and missed a great opportunity. Get a few runs under your belt and set your dog up to win. By approaching training this way you make much quicker progress as you continually build on the previous learning rather than having to go back to basics because you have rushed it. This is key to stopping unwanted dog behaviour.