I often hear from clients that their dog has gone through a variety of classes at different locations: pet shops, trainers’ businesses, etc. And, they either passed or they were “kicked out” because of a host of reasons. Mostly, the dog trainer was not well-versed or comfortable (or it wasn’t in the curriculum) to deal with a dog that was not “perfect”.
And they call because the dog in their pack is not doing the things they want them to do; namely, be better behaved or stop biting at people and/or dogs, and to stop pulling on the leash and making walks so uncomfortable and stressful that they just stop walking the dog.
I’m sure you’ve heard or read from me that a lot of those behaviors are an outgrowth of 2 things: lack of appropriate leadership and too much energy. I’ve posted before about leadership (and will again in the future) but I wanted to share with you an analogy that I use and make it visual. If we don’t assist our packs with draining some of the pent-up energy they have, our dogs will act out in ways that are unproductive: chewing, picking up everything, food stealing (counter surfing), horrible leash and walk manners, etc. And we also want it fixed NOW, which – by the way – is not the way it happens. There is no time schedule for working with your dog, you just have to stay consistent. Become your dog’s personal trainer for mind and body!
So, I want you to look at the series of pictures that I made to portray this. These are to portray the water (energy) in the glass (our dogs) and where the levels need to be for things to be 1) better managed, or 2) more helpful for the dog’s mental and physical health. The first one is where your dogs’ energy level needs to be before leaving for the day, or at the end of the evening, or before we plan to have guests visit, because it will take a while for their energy level to get to a less manageable level.
This second one is usually where we leave our dogs’ energy level. It’s not hard to figure out how soon the energy level will fill and start to overflow. Overflowing is where we start to see and experience the “bad behaviors”.
This third one shows what happens when, while you’re gone the phone rings, the mail people come, the UPS delivery takes place, someone rings the doorbell, etc. Energy levels and excitement increase dramatically!
The fourth one shows where, depending upon how little space is left, the next event starts to really become a problem.
The last ones show how when the energy becomes too much for the dog to take and it starts to flow freely out of the dog. Eating blinds, chewing holes through walls, WAY too much excitement when you get back home, are all symptoms of this overflowing energy.
Your leadership walk needs to take place and probably a bike ride/roller blades/skateboard activity (NOT you running the dog – unless it’s a small dog, you are probably tired by the end but your medium to large breed can go much further/faster/longer than you) to help regain the calmer state of mind in your dog. So remember to help your dogs’ state of mind by helping drain the energy, staying calm, and staying consistent.
Until next time, stay calm and be your dog’s personal trainer!