The other day I was walking to an appointment. All of a sudden I heard the heavy breathing of a dog behind me. I turned around and I saw a pack walker ( he had about 6 dogs) and a human helper. The guy who I assume was the “main walker” was getting ready to deliver a little black chow to his home and the dog was just very adamant to get access to me. The guy looked at me in a somewhat hostile fashion and said: I am not sure why he is doing that. The dog was wearing a chain choke and was lunging/jumping. The guy started to throw verbal commands around. SETTLE!…nothing:)…of course…then he belted out my absolute favorite: the Cesar Milan TSHHHH! …nothing:) Then he jerked on the chain and poked the dog with his foot into the side of the abdominal area. I almost vomited at that point.
I mean really! What kind of behavior is that? The dog meant no harm, there was no aggressive display. Surely from the point of view of manners it hurt the guy’s ego not to be able to control this little black chow. But there were so many things wrong with the picture.
First of all: Commanding the dog to “settle” from lunging: That is just throwing a word around for the possible benefit of a human bystander (me). Clearly the dog was not paying any attention and was too aroused. The physical abuse is on a whole other level of stupidity and macho-ism.
But the point here is: Why should that dog ever listen or listen to that guy?
His words are just angry sounding utterings that have no specific meaning to the dog, That in itself is upsetting and frustrating. But there is another terrible aspect to this: The words become predictors for physical punishment!
The scenario I experienced is an extreme example.
Here is another, much more innocent version:
You ask your dog to sit. “SIT!” you say. But you dog is not sitting. You might repeat yourself, prompting the dog again “SIT!” a bit louder maybe. Again, your dog does not comply. So you say something like: “oh well” and walk away or “I guess he does not want to right now” or laugh it off, depending on your frame of mind at the moment.
Building trust is the reason why consistency is so important.
DO NOT ASK FOR STUFF YOU JUST KNOW IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
MAKE SURE YOU TEACH WHAT THE WORDS ACTUALLY MEAN BEFORE YOU EXPECT THE DOG TO COMPLY!
BE PAINFULLY AWARE OF THE FACT THAT DISTRACTIONS MAKE IT TREMEDOUSLY MORE DIFFICULT FOR YOUR DOG TO FOCUS. YOUR DOG HAS TO LEARN TO BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE AND LEARN WITH MAJOR DISTRACTIONS. ONLY THEN ARE YOU SETTING A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD AND GIVING THE DOG THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE SUCCESSFUL!
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