Al's Dog Training Tips

Are you rewarding yourself, or your dog?

Today’s topic is “are you rewarding your dog or yourself?” This issue is tough because dogs are incredible creatures. And whenever we see one, own one, or have one with us, it’s very easy to begin to reward ourselves with their presence.  The dog isn’t going to object, of course, because they really do live in the moment, and they enjoy all the attention we give them. 

The Problem

This can create problems when you’re trying to raise a dog. All of the things that you are doing are rewarding for you and your dog. But you may not actually be building the things you’re going to need the dog to learn to enjoy a long-term relationship.  Now, I’m not going to tell you that I’m the absolute authority on what your dog should or should not be doing.  However, it’s been my experience that dogs understand to stay where you tell them to, walk on a leash, and come when called. They understand how important listening is; then, they usually know how fun life is when they understand those things. 

Many people allow their dogs privileges such as eating human food, sleeping on the bed, or going to dog parks, and it actually works out perfectly well for them.  The problem therein lies when people are giving their dog those types of freedoms, then they end up saying, for example, “Hey, I want you to come,” and the dog is like, “Hey, I’m not going to do that.” Then meanwhile, we’re giving the dog all sorts of entitlement.

Free Feed

I’m going to give you some examples from my own life. These things may be a little bit harder than most would be willing to do, but I intend to share these things I do with my own dogs, so maybe you can get something out of it for yourself.  One example is that when I get a puppy, I don’t let them eat out of a bowl, and I never “free feed” any of my dogs.  When I get a puppy, I will hand feed the dog every last piece of kibble for an extended time. I want my puppy to see every piece of food coming from me instead of entitling that dog to a bowl.  

If you’re complaining at all about how your dog is responding to you, and you’re putting food in a bowl and not training with your dog, it’s a huge vulnerability.  So, maybe that’s something you should think about. I’m not even saying do it for a full year, but even if you do it for 10 days, I think you’ll see a big difference.

The Importance of Place Stay

Another thing to think about when getting a new dog is where you’re cuddling with them.  Are you cuddling on the couch and on the bed? The place stay is something I use quite a bit, and I get many messages from clients saying, “When you taught us how to do this, it was a game-changer!” So if you have a dog that’s not listening, instead of cuddling with them on the couch or the bed, get on the floor and start cuddling with them there to show them how important it is for them to be on their bed and actually value it. 

It’s imperative, especially when you first get a dog or first form that relationship, that you do not take too much reward for yourself.  It’s really easy to do that, so you’re going to have to be thoughtful when you’re interacting with that dog and showing them that you will reward them for the things you want them to do in the long term. And then, once the dog learns how to do that, you can really enjoy that relationship in a meaningful way. 

Send me a text message at (832)734-5189 if you have any questions about this or need help with anything else. I hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy your dogs. For more tips like this, you can find them right here on my website or go to my YouTube Channel.

Happy Training!

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