Every person owning a dog, and not only, realizes that there is an early strong and natural reciprocal bond between human and dogs. This relationship however, did not kept its natural character, as throughout the years it was advanced by a lot of mutual hard work of dogs and human. This was achieved by using the common forms of communication– that are energy and persistent training, as the only formula that humans and dogs found as mostly relevant to fittingly adopt into each other’s lives.
As we speak about dogs and human relationship – dogs are the ones expecting from humans to teach them and guide them about what they are expected to do.
Well, even that both – humans and dogs share emotions, these emotions somehow differ anyway. At the same time as people’s key emotion is reason, dogs natural emotion is instinct or “genetically based understanding”, meaning dogs behavior is led by how they naturally feel about life events – but then again, this must not be understood as the lack of dogs’ capability to learn and develop their logical thinking. However, let us say – dogs’ logical education functions somewhat different from people.
In fact, dogs have many times proved they can be great learners from humans’ teachings. There is why persistent education by humankind must become an integral part of the dogs’ everyday life.
As aforesaid, dogs are not able to make a reasonable thinking as people do, they can only learn by classical condition – meaning that they need signs or indications – such as the energy and body language food, toy or other rewarding means to tell them what we, humans want them to learn.
Said differently, is on us to accurately look out after our dogs, so they get the proper leadership and instruction, same as we care of our children. Thus, sometimes this includes letting our dogs know where their limitations and boundaries are – and for that, we set rules and follow a specific leadership attitude to make sure they properly learn to behave what we call “the right way.”
Speaking of rules, even dog rules refer to a group of structural principles that must guide dogs on what they are allowed to do & what they are not, let us say: settle down, stop, play and so on.
What makes an owner a great dog leader
A great dog leader is a person who is calm and emphatic, and this is the most important thing that everybody should have in mind when planning to teach a dog how to behave and take control over his dog. We shall say that techniques are not so important compared to the energy that a dog trainer transmits towards his dog, especially during the training sessions.
A dog trainer must be the one to find the calmest and gentlest approach to work with a dog – in such a way so the dog will properly apprehend and respect his instructions and “authority”.
In this regard, it is very important thing to mention that the energy has its own known language – that of emotion and ergo humans never have to tell the dog how they are feeling: tired, sad, happy, calm – as dogs can in fact exactly read that through the energy that humans subconsciously release. So unbelievably but absolutely true – humans and dogs communicate regularly through the energy and body language.
Human-dog relationship is just like human-human relationship – it has to be fulfilled both sides, otherwise is incomplete. As dogs cannot communicate verbally – body language serves as the common way to transmit information amongst each other, consequently, they also use your movements and energy to read your emotions, as the only form to understand and enter the human’s world.
Thereupon, the things anyone must take into consideration as the dog owner who is trying to build a leadership role towards his dog are two: the energy and body language – as the only elements through which dogs can learn –including their boundaries and limitations, lack of which invites the dog to have a lack of respect towards you and your lessons.
In few words, be the owner that can make his dog distinguish who the leader and the follower are in a dog-owner relationship! A dog that cannot properly make this difference, found in a confusing situation he will be the one to take the leadership role and be unconvinced about any of your teachings and commands.
Speaking of leadership, it represents a package of a number of attributes that a dog trainer needs to having it, in order for the dog to be properly taught and led. This does not include push, anger, abuse or any form of punishment towards the dog – this will never build any good or fruitful relationship, instead it will invite dog’s anger and fear towards the you as an owner who is mistreating him.
A good leadership of the owner is that of the one who is able to set rules, learn which are dog’s boundaries and limitations in and outside the house – done by the use of a systematic calm and positive approach – something that helps the dog adopting with the rules easily and enforces respect towards the owner.
In few other words, this is a matter of psychology – dogs need leaders and humans need followers. The role of the leaders is to direct and protect the followers, where protection leads towards faith, admiration, and loyalty that dogs develop for their owners. On the other hand, direction is something that leads towards rules, boundaries, and limitations of the owner towards dog. Contrary, when dogs feel they are not protected and directed properly – as they are creatures with a great ability to sense the danger – they act inconvincible, something that does not make the dog learn and respect the owner – allowing the dog to create his own rules and tips.
The dog will only feel safe around someone that is calm and persistent in what he is doing.
How boundaries and limitations can be taught to a dog
Behavior is something that is a fluid phenomenon that differs as the life events take place. Naturally, there is no sharp boundary between one and another behavior.
When a dog is i.e. escaping home – there is a great chance this is because he does not have much to do there, or he does not gets the proper lead.
When the owner – in his leadership role – is not fulfilling dog’s needs, the dog will run away from home to try fulfilling those needs somewhere else. But anyone would ask – what I need to do to make my dog satisfied? This is a simple question as all an owner must do is offering his dog the proper exercise– this is related to their body since if the dog’s body is tired the dog will not have the energy to jump and enjoy the life. Nonetheless, dogs – in order to exercise and learn they need to know which are their limitations and boundaries, because one they learn these they know how far they can go – i.e. if you open the door the dog will know how much feet away he can run, and as soon as he reaches such distance, as he will know his boundaries and limitation he will come back at the same place he started.
Boundaries are the things you teach your dog to do or not to do. So, the dog is not able to know himself what is wrong and what is right but you need to tell him what you can tolerate and what you cannot, through the boundaries you set. In another sense, boundaries are those territorial limitations that you set to make your dog aware about where he is permitted to go and where he is not, what he is permitted to do and what he is not.
Limitations are the tools used to control dog’s intensity and length of an activity, and through them we tell where the dog needs to stop doing what he is doing in order to return him into a calm and passive condition of body. So in other sense, limitations help the dog take a break for a while from what he is doing in a specific moment. This is very helpful in many cases – especially when dogs get super-excited about doing specific thing and sometimes this can be dreadful for them and surrounding – even represent a danger.
Rules are an instrument through which we teach the dog to follow specific principles in order to achieve specific dog behavioral condition – such as to take a break, sit, calm down or else. Rules are not necessarily used when dogs misbehave but they are often used to develop a dog’s behavior, in order to grow a better leadership towards the dog.
Tips for building boundaries and limitations
As aforesaid –a trainer needs to tell the dog what to do and for how long by setting specific rules, boundaries and limitations. A dog only understands and applies rules if we find the proper way for them to learn it – and this is by speaking the language they understand.
Boundaries are something very important for the dog to get it, as dogs often tent to act beyond that of what people want – like touching furniture, walking over the table, running through the street or else. That is why they need to know where their territory ends and where they must settle back.
Let’s learn how to limit dogs’ territory in few tips:
- Become territorial
Dogs natural instinct is to claim their territory, by using body language and energy to tell the other dogs and humans what is theirs without using aggression for that. They use this common dog sense anytime, even when they claim a toy – standing above it and leaning their head down to protect it.
In order to be respected by a dog, start by telling him where your territory is through your body and energy. For example if you want to tell him that a specific place, i.e. kitchen is your territory and the dog cannot go there without your permission – you stay over it while your dog is watching.
- Become the leader, tell the dog he is your follower
As we explained earlier – a dog needs to know who the leader and who the follower is, otherwise he will be the one to take the lead over any difficult situation and not only. Therefore, you as a dog owner and personal trainer are the person to establish rules for letting the dog understand that you are the leader and he is the one to follow your tips.
To do this, you should start acting like a leader by teaching the dog commands through the appropriate exercises – such as to “Wait”. In this exercise, you should be teaching the dog while he is on leash – to wait at the doorways until you give him the order to move after you. This way, the dog will understand you are the one to walk first and he is the second – meaning he needs to follow you.
Make sure your dog has learned the command properly
Sometimes you learn your dog a command and all they do is associate it with the treat you gave during the training sessions. This is wrong, since they might often start performing the command as soon as they see you reaching the treat even that you did not give any specific command.
In such case, seeing your dog associating the command with a treat, you must teach the dog the command over again, making sure the dog understands properly that the purpose of giving the treat during training sessions was for him to understand the command and not the other way around. To do this, you must pull back the trick as soon as they start performing the command when they see the treat on your hand – this will be an indication they need to stop anticipate the treat with the command, and they only should perform the command when you say so.
This exercise will teach the dog to only perform specific action when you give the command and this surely will bring back the dogs respect towards your boundaries.
Find the proper time to correct dog’s inappropriate behavior
Your obligation as a leader is to correct your dog when he is misbehaving, but this is not very simple task since there is a perfect time when you should do this. You do not tell your dog “stop” while he is in the middle of doing something incorrectly – such as sitting with his dirty legs in the bed, since if you do this while he is enjoying what he is doing, he will not take the command seriously, pushing him to become nervous as you are interrupting him from his little fun time.
The perfect moment in such case would be to tell the dog “stop” or “tsch” as soon as he is about to jump or has just jumped in the bed, and he will understand that sitting in the bed with dirty legs is wrong.
Become consistent on what you do
The role of the dog commander or leader is a full-time job, meaning that you cannot allow the dog to do something you taught not doing at the first sight. However, sometimes you want the rule to change in particular cases – but you don’t want for the dog to get confused– and in such case there is an exception. Let us say, if you once taught the dog to not sit in the sofa, but one time you want him to come and sit with you there, this should be done only by your invitation.
Teaching this to a dog must be similar to teaching him to “wait” – an exercise where you tell the dog that you are the leader and he can only cross i.e. the doorways after you tell him so, and therefore the dog will get he is not allowed to cross your territory until you allow him to do that.