June 16, 2009

20080818094940_CaptureWith a sense of smell, hundreds, even thousands of times more powerful
than ours, where dogs can see (metaphorically) what’s around a corner,
what’s buried underground or where a rabbit is hiding hundreds of
yards away in a tall, grassy fields. Plus with vision that is
especially keen to movement, it a wonder why dogs pay any attention to
us at all.  This is one reason many people fail when ttrying to teach out dogs how to behave. We are competing with a dogs powerful sense of smell, their
predatory nature, their innate breed instincts, their highly social
needs, etc. 

Group classes are not designed to teach beginner dog anything, except maybe a few dog social skills before or after class. They are designed to teach the owner, then the owner goes home to teach the dog what he or she learned in class. The owner is distracted enough to learn the information, it’s worst for the dog. A dog should learn around little or no distraction, before practicing what they’ve learned around bigger distractions.

Another reason owners have trouble teaching dogs is they try to teach them at the wrong time, usually when the dog starts misbehaving. This is not the time to teach, the trick is to recreate, or anticipate a situation, so you can fully walk the dog through the steps of how you want them to behave when that situation comes up in the future. 

I can’t stress enough of the importance of good basic obedience, on-leash sit, stay, down and come. Just like children have to learn to walk before running, or to count before doing more advance math like adding, subtracting, etc. Until your dog is advanced taught, they should learn new things in familiar places,
like in or around your home, practice on pavement (asphalt)
v.s. grass; you wont have their attention because of all the smells or
other associations to grass, like playing and going to the bathroom.

If you thought your dog was stubborn or could not learn, now you
should know it was just “what’s around the corner”.

There are ways to win your dogs attention back, hire your local -dog
friendly- instructor to find out how.

Be patient, It takes time and practice for dogs to learn and listen in all environment, surfaces and situations.



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