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When we were kids, many of us tried to ride our bikes without having our hands on the handle bars. More often than not, we crashed! However, I live by those words with my dogs and they have served me, and them, well.
We often use our hands to manipulate things. However, when we use our hands to manipulate our dogs, they often learn not to trust our hands. You should never hit, swat or spank your dogs, although many clients admit to doing this. You might grab your dog’s collar to keep him from running out the door, jumping up on someone, or to get him off the couch. These are very common ways people “manipulate” their dogs.
However, from your dog’s perspective, there is not a lot of difference between grabbing his collar and swatting him. Both will result in a loss of trust with your dog, and trust is a hugely important aspect of the human – canine relationship.
Very recently I’ve worked with two different families neither of whose dogs would come to them. The dogs would get within arm’s length and veer away. It was an indication that they didn’t trust what the pet parents’ hands were going to do. In both cases, the family had grabbed the dogs’ collars when they opened the door to let me in their homes. Both families had resorted to bribing their dogs with treats to get them to come to them. The dogs would get within arms reach and lean in to take the treats.
Many times, even this resulted in a quick collar grab, especially if the people needed to leave and had to get their dog inside. As you can imagine, that further erodes the dog’s trust.
Imagine how you would feel if you were visiting someone who didn’t speak the same language as you and instead of showing you what they wanted you to do, they grabbed you and tugged you to a chair or pushed you. It probably wouldn’t take you very long to want to be somewhere else.
Bark Busters trainers view life from the canine perspective and we help our clients do the same. Each of us have had many years of practice and can usually quickly understand situations. Dogs do things for dog reasons, and helping our clients understand WHY their dog is doing something, or not doing something, helps our clients to understand the importance of doing things a different way.
The good news is that dogs are very forgiving, as long as they weren’t traumatized. If you change your behavior, your dog will as well. Both the families I mentioned earlier are well on the way towards having dogs that are happy to come all the way to them now. If their pet parents don’t revert to grabbing their collars, it will get easier and easier.
If you are confused or frustrated with your dog’s behavior, call us. We will help you understand your dog and will help you communicate in a way that your dog will instinctively understand. Learn to “Speak Dog” and change both your life and your dogs’ life for the better. And please remember “Look Ma, no hands” is a good thing when it comes to your dogs.