How do you feel when you are either ignored or told what to do? When you do not have control?

Elisabeth crossing the street with her dog

Speaking for myself: I don’t like it at all.

Realizing that I am going to have to find a way to occupy myself after seeking a conversation and finding the other party preoccupied is sort of ok, but then being reprimanded for not listening when all of a sudden they want to engage: that is often annoying!

I also don’t like being bossed around all the time.

Put this here, why don’t you do such and such now? Not here, over there! Being on someone else’s agenda most of the time is disheartening and undermines one’s confidence.

I don’t like it because I like to have control over my own life.

The need for choice and control over one’s actions is urgent and important for all species

Puppy enjoying the choice and control of running to owner

Having choice and control is a primal need.

This has been quite evident during the pandemic. To have one’s choices limited and not having any real control over the environment has lead our society to violent outbursts and extraordinary amounts of paranoia, hysteria and frustration.

The need for choice and control over one’s actions is urgent and important for all species but here I will just focus on our dogs. It is really valuable to have an even-keeled animal companion.

So, teaching our dogs to understand what to do in different situations is so much more satisfying to them because they have the choice to take a risk or not. They have the choice to earn a reward or to safely do their own thing if it is scary or too challenging.

Happy dog getting pets
Training a dog is really nothing else but to encourage them to engage in behaviors they know will be safe. That to try something new is safe because no ill will come to them if they do.

That is my goal when I “train” a puppy. I teach the puppy to integrate into their humans’ lives harmoniously. Not by motivating them to “do or else” but by repeating what has been rewarded, greatly appreciated and has made them feel great about themselves.

A dog who is able to think things through and is given time and motivation to “guess right” is much happier than one who is simply told what to do and not able to derive any real satisfaction from the behavior.

Are you a guardian looking to encourage your dog through choice and control? Here at Dog Relations, we are happy to provide you with the necessary support so you and your dog can continue to learn and bond together! Click here to visit our website and learn more about our virtual and in-person dog training and wellness sessions!

Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

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