Think Like a Dog

My friends and family say I am part dog.  I take that as a compliment, most days I would rather be like a dog than like some people.  Dogs are simple.  They are forgiving and they love unconditionally.  The things I learn from dogs and other animals make me a better and more patient human!  I lovingly wear a pendant that says “All Dog”.  I guess working with dogs for so many years and problem solving to help their owners with behavior problems has made me think more like a dog.

Now, please understand, I am not complaining!  Thinking like a dog makes me a better dog trainer and it helps me to appreciate life from their point of view.  I think everyone should take a few steps into their dog’s mind and realize what it is like to be a dog.

The first thing to do when you and your dog are not seeing eye to eye, is to try and understand life from his perspective!  Not only will this help you to be more considerate of him and his feelings it will also help you to problems solve effectively and efficiently to come up with a plan that can work for you both.

Digging

I hate digging holes!  It doesn’t matter if it’s a small hole or a large hole, digging is hard work; it makes me sore, tired and overheated!  So why does your dog like digging?

Dogs can’t read books or comprehend a good T.V. show, but digging for a dog is just plain FUN!

Your dog’s nose is 1,000 times more powerful than yours, and let’s face it dogs love disgusting stuff, the stinky- “er” the better!  I can only imagine that each new level of dirt smells exciting and like something else.  There are animals that borrow through the ground, insects, and even treasures like buried food and old bones.  I bet the scents of dogs from the past are all throughout the ground, layers of dirt and yard!

Digging for your dog is probably like watching CSI or reading a good psychological thriller is for us, it’s just super stimulating!

Not only are the scents mingling in the dirt fun to sniff, but watching the dirt fly through the air and land in abstract places can also be “super fun”!  One of my best friends has a German Shepherd who absolutely loves to dig, and then she chases the flying dirt.

Bored dogs dig!  Exercise or lessening their time spent outside can help.

Chasing flying dirt and water from the sprinkler can entertain a bored dog; it can also help fulfill some of those herding dog instincts that encourage that chasing behavior and keeping items, flock or people together.

Some dogs are bred to dig up rodents and their instincts could be too much for them to totally deny their instincts!

Digging instincts may need to be addressed by building a sand box and letting your dog dig in a specific area!

Accidents in the House

Sometimes, by default, I think we humans encourage the bad behaviors we are trying to avoid in our dogs.  What happens when your dog potties on the floor in front of you?  Do you scream, rant and rave at him?  Some people kick, yell at or even hit their dogs; and let us not forget the old adage of rubbing the dog’s nose in the spot!  What do you think your dog learns from this type of “teaching”?

He learns that you NEVER want to see him go to the bathroom in front of you, so when you take him outside he doesn’t want to relieve himself in front of you.  He waits with a full bladder until you bring him back in and he can run and hide in another room to relieve himself.  He is terrified to potty in front of you.

He undoubtedly does not associate where he is at “indoors” with the behavior, how can we expect an animal to realize among all things that it is his “surroundings” and his behavior combined are the reason for your rage.  He undoubtedly thinks you are “bi-polar” (if he could understand and relate to that) and is scared when you blow up at him in a frenzy.

Don’t yell!  You may startle your dog if you see him going potty in the house, simply to stop the flow of urine and then get him outside.  Praise your dog for going potty outside!!  NEVER EVER hit, spank, kick or rub your dog’s nose in his mistake!

The other reason is simple if you think about it from your dog’s standpoint.  Going outside is SO MUCH FUN!  There are things to do outside, like sniff, dig, bark, play, chase leaves and just enjoy the weather.  Your dog or puppy goes outside and it is like “fun land” for him.  But, we humans expect them to get down to the business of using the potty and then coming right back inside; we are not known for our patience!  Or, we put them outside by themselves and expect them to go to the potty without watching and instead they chase butterflies, dig up the rose bush, bark at the neighbor dog and otherwise find things to do to entertain themselves.

THEN, we let them back inside and that is when they remember they have to go potty!  He then sneaks off to a secluded room (so you can’t see him and yell..which he doesn’t understand) and he relieves himself.

Go outside with him to make sure he is getting down to business outside!  Allow him time to play outside as well as go potty!

Simple convenience also plays a role when you are beginning potty training, or even later in life.  If it is 10 below zero, torrential raining, or there is snow up to your puppy or dog’s chest it may not be conducive to good potty training!  One of my dogs HATES the heat, so I have to watch her and make sure she goes potty when she goes outside when it is hot!  In her mind, she would just rather squat on the floor in the cool than go out into the baking sun…we call her a vampire because she is so dramatic about the heat and the sun!  I know that about her, so it’s my job to make sure she is successful about getting outside every few hours and before the hottest part of the day!

I don’t think I would want to drop “trou” and pee in 10 below zero or when the rain is driving down!  Make sure you do your best to help your dog be successful with his potty training endeavors by making a path, holding an umbrella or going out when it is warmer or cooler for your dog!

Barking

 

Thanks for dog behavior tips for the image

 

 

How many of you can admit to yourselves that you encourage barking sometimes, because you want your dog to protect your home, but you hate it other times?  Sometimes you reward the behavior and other times you lose your cool when your dog starts barking?

Unless you put the behaviors of barking and quiet on command it is difficult for your dog to be rewarded sometimes and yelled at other times for the same behavior!  Talk about confusing, your dog never knows when you want him to bark and when you don’t!

Do you yell at your dog when he barks? I can only guess that when your dog is barking and you are yelling…he thinks YOU ARE BARKING TOO!  Imagine your dog sees the mail man and begins barking to scare him away…you start yelling at him because you are on the phone but from his perspective maybe he thinks you are mad at the mail man too!

Treating barking by barking back at your dog is never going to work!  It actually perpetuates the behavior.  Dogs often mirror our behavior and our moods, stay calm, quiet and collected and teach your dog the same!

Teach your dog to bark and to be quiet on command!  Teach your dog that he and YOU are in control of his mouth!

These are only a few of the most common problems people encounter with their dogs.  Seeing situations from your dog’s point of view helps you to correct the flaws in your side of the behavior problem or at least helps you to understand your dog from a different perspective.

Although we don’t have to agree with the behaviors and their problems understanding them may help us to be more patient and more sympathetic or empathetic when training and working with our dogs!

The very first thing I do when I recognize a behavior problem with my dog is to try and put myself in his paws and understand it from his perspective.  This empathy and consideration helps me tackle the behaviors from a different point of view and, I believe, helps me to be a better dog trainer and definitely a better dog mom!

Understanding, and empathy leads to kindness and kindness leads to a better overall relationship.  So my advice…learn to think like a dog and see life from their sweet and simple perspective, I know it has made me a better trainer and a better person!  I think I can learn more from them than they could ever learn from me!

 

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Comments

  1. lambros says:

    I strongly agree that we have to be patient with our dogs.Patience with the dog training will have results. There are some times that we should think like our dog in order to achieve better results and gain the respect of our animal

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    Liam Reply:

    I was a dog trainer in California for a while and used to tell people to compare how they treat their dogs with how they treat their kids. I tell them dogs are going to make potty mistakes. Kids make mistakes, too, but you don’t mistreat them when it happens. Neither should you treat your dog any differently. Patience is the key.

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  2. Ruth Marker says:

    I love this! I definitely want to read more from you. Are you sure your name isn’t Cesar? When my dogs bark @ the back door and I don’t see anything, I actually get down to their viewing area to look. This actually seems to satisfy them, then I tell them it’s nothing and they are ok.

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    Minette Reply:

    🙂 thank you for the compliment! I love my job, and working with animals is a blessing! I have also tried this method…sometimes even in a mall while training Service Dogs. You don’t realize what a dog sees thinks or hears until you sometimes literally put yourself where he is!

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  3. sugathan says:

    It is very interesting and useful.Thanks

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  4. Sheila Ellerbruch says:

    I had such a laugh at this article. It is all so true. I have two three year old Minature schnauzers, both spade and I am at the end of my rope,almost, with the in- door pottying, both kinds! I even have a doggy door for them. I have never hit them, of course I am raising my voice and am sure my demeaner is not very pleasant whilst I am cleaning the messes. They follow me everywhere and have thirteen steps to go up and down to the fenced in garden. I can tell I need to think like my doggies

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    joni Gutchen Reply:

    I recently looked up something called a puppy apartment. It is a dog crate with a divider in it, one side to sleep, one side to potty using disposable pads.
    They claim that since the crated dog won go potty where he sleeps, he will learn potty in the other area is acceptable. It looks very good and looks great for use with all dogs, even retraining adult dogs.
    With your situation, you might want to look it up since you have smaller dogs and those steps you referenced.
    I am considering it for my Yorkie and Shorkie (both males). My reason for trying it is that I am now disabled and cannot always get them out. If they had their very own potty area inside, they wouldn’t have to worry about inclement weather, heat, etc.
    Look it up, you might like it too.

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    R. Murrell Reply:

    I purchased the puppy apt. My little dog is only 3 months old and he hasn’t got the concept down yet. He is confined to the
    kitchen where his crate is, but continues to do his business on
    the floor. I know I have scolded him for peeing on the floor and put him in the crate for up to 3 hrs. It is hard not to
    correct them when they do wrong. If I catch him I put him in
    the crate but usually he just stops and then does it on the
    floor when he is let out. I know I need patience since he is
    so young BUT HELP is there something else I should be doing??
    Any and all advice is welcome.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Instead of putting him in the crate when you catch him you need to go outside with him!! Get use to his schedule and keep putting him outside.

    Use his crate unless you are going to be gone longer than 4 hours then you can use the room. But allowing him to potty in the house sometimes and not others is especially confusing, so understand that and work long and hard to not leave him for too long and to get him outside every few hours!

  5. Hoosier Favorite says:

    First we teach our dog to speak before we give them something. Then we get angry or upset then they decide to talk back to us and we can not shut them up.
    Thank you, for your insight. Guess I will try to be more understanding…

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  6. diana says:

    great info

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  7. James says:

    I know dogs understand and the older the dog the more they understand
    how humans do not stay on course. Bark, do not bark, sit ,stay… make up your mind tell me what you want me to do and be done with it. My day starts with my dogs and ends with my dogs. Dogs rule!!!!

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  8. Marina says:

    I totally agree. My GSD, Harley is my first dog. I grew up with cats and other small critters. I always wanted a GSD and after my divorce it just happened I could save a male from being put down. He was 9 months old and a hand full. But like you say with patience and now three years later I can’t even think of my life without him.

    Thank you for your insight. He goes a Howl a Day Inn here in town and they’ve helped me to be a better owner. But with the intelligence my German Shepherd has he’s been patient and loving all the way….

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  9. Debbie Koop says:

    I’ve been fortunate with a young dog who mainly barks in the protective measure. However, since he’s “an only child” as I call him, he demands non stop attention because the “world revolves” around him. He thinks.. If he’s removed from the situation and isn’t the top dog he’ll bark. If anything is said to him,, it’s “attention.” If he’s ignored for his bark, he loses interest in barking eventually.

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  10. Lchriss says:

    I know the procedure you wrote about the barking. I’m getting better, but I haven’t been able to ‘teach him to bark & be quiet on command’. I’m old and have trouble remembering the commands I used the last time I tried teaching him. I think that is beyond your expertice, in training old trainers :). I will keep trying. He is a 12 pound terrier.

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  11. Jari says:

    Most of this I knew, but I have made the mistake of raising my voice to tell the dog to stop barking – never realized he thought I was joining in! Makes perfect sense, tho. ;I appreciate the insights.

    [Reply]

    joni Gutchen Reply:

    I just “heard” of this recently and guess what, I’ve tried lowering my voice and thanking them, then reassuring them that it’s all done, then I use something else for them to put their minds on like a favorite toy that’s nearby. The little squeaker gets their attention away from what they were doing (barking). The amount of time to distract them from the barking is getting less and less. So, It Works!

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  12. Arlene says:

    Great insight. Thank you so very much.

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  13. Lacie's Grandma says:

    I have often thought of those things with my small “Yorkie”. She responds better and learns better when I am not yelling or scolding. We humans want to be treated respectfully even if we have been wrong. Thanks for reminding us.

    [Reply]

    joni Gutchen Reply:

    I am a Yorkie Mommy too. You are right. You sound like such a nice person through your response. I agree, Thanks for the reminder.

    [Reply]

  14. carole says:

    i have 3 adorable little lasos every time i come in as soon as they hear my car they lose it constant barkin 4 at least 5 min after im in . tried sayin nothin, that doesnt work ,if i try yellin at them to be quiet it does no good.what else could help? thanks

    [Reply]

    joni Gutchen Reply:

    Totally ignore them, turn your back on them until they stop the behavior. This helps with another problem too, anxious wetters. As soon as they stop barking, give them the attention, say your hellos, etc. They will soon stop barking sooner because they want your attention and they aren’t getting it unless they stop. It worked really well on my two (1 Yorkie/1 Shorkie).
    If you don’t want to totally ignore them, you could try turning your back and very quietly keep repeating that you cannot “talk” to them until they stop. They hear your quiet voice and stop barking to try to understand what you are saying. This works very well too.

    [Reply]

  15. Susanne says:

    How about eating Kleenexes from the trash, the more used the better. I have a cough, is he trying to “cure” me?

    [Reply]

    joni Gutchen Reply:

    No, he’s just having fun. And it’sgross how they are with it, they will pick your trash for anything gross, the grosser the better. I am battling this with my new kid (mixed breed with some Jack Russell and Min Pin in him). He also loves the laundry. He likes to eat the crotch of panties, YUK. What to do, what to do?

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  16. Eileen says:

    My dog has taught me a lot more than patience. She also taught me how to simplify things and that when you issue a correction is just as important as how you do it. Most important my dog has taught me how to laugh at myself.

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  17. nick pharaoh says:

    my german shepard lives in fear when am out with her wants to frighton and attack evryone awy i try to calm her but i cant get to relax i would like to know what am doing that makes her behave so badly

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  18. Julie says:

    I have two small rescue dogs which bark a lot when they see strangers, cars, and especially other dogs. One of my dogs is very anxious due to a history of abuse prior to coming to live with me. Would the bark/quiet technique work with a very nervous and sometimes anxious-aggressive dog? He is lovely when calm, but very challenging (and barky) when something or someone new is nearby.

    [Reply]

  19. Carol Hall says:

    I have 4 dogs. When someone comes to the door, they go barralling to the door and you cannot open it. If you do, they jump up on the person. How do I correct this with all four of them. I have tried giving a treat and that does not work. I can say out, out, out, and most usually they will then follow me to the back door, but I want them to not go to the door and jump on people.

    [Reply]

    joni Gutchen Reply:

    I wrote a reply about something I read, and it works. Rather than me retyping it, can you see #14 Carole.If not, perhaps the blogger could let you know about it, if she agrees with that method. Have you ever watched a pgm called “It’s Me Or The Dog”? Great show, terrific trainer. I’ve been following her and she’s usually right on the money with things.

    [Reply]

  20. I was of the opinion I had a great deal of patience. After reading this, I have enjoyed knowing I can learn a few things about patience – particularly when it comes to my Gabbey, dog. Think like a dog – very interesting and I certainly will be more aware of her feelings. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  21. Dorothy says:

    I really enjoy your ways of dog training. I agree that patience is best. My OES only barks when he wants something. It might be to go out, food, water or just petting. I just have to figure out what he wants. My German Shepard doesn’t bark at all because the other dog does it all for him. I have found that getting both of them not do something is to give them something else that I want them to do.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Excellent! Same principle applies with children 😉

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  22. Jo says:

    All that is good, but with my dog he has separation anxiaties and he barks like crazy, well mostly since the neighbor with that yappy dog moved in…..He won’t bark when I arrive, but any other member of the family he will bark eventhough I tell him not too (without barking myself)….

    I tought him hand signal,(we saved him when he was 3yrs old) and I just have to say NO usually, but for barking, nothing of that works…..

    He barks because he is exited…..

    any suggestion????

    thanks

    [Reply]

  23. mairleen says:

    I am wondering why my dog persistantly licking and jumping on people not me but others and its hatd to calm her down. She is a overly friendly tricolor pit bull

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    She probably likes people and gets overly excited and feels like she can’t control herself! With you…yes she gets excited, but probably knows not to jump on you.

    You must give her something else to do so she doesn’t jump on people, for example sitting or laying down. When she does this she can be petted by people for as long as she holds the position! But the moment she jumps back up for licks she is no longer allowed access to the person.

    She will get the idea to keep her feet on the ground and her tongue in her mouth if she wants to visit. Just be consistent with her! Dogs are incredibly smart!

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  24. Don says:

    So far after reading all your blogs, and belive me zi have read them all, I have found nothing that helps me with my wife’s yorkie! He refuses to be housetrained, he jumps on people constantly, he barks at anything that moves, when he wants to play, or when he wants attention! He is the sweetest, most loving, adorable little guy and knows a mulitude of tricks, but as for basic commands he just does not care to learn or does not care to respond! Is there any hope for him, or do we just have to live with things the way they are. My wife has trained many, many dogs in the past and says she has never ran into one so stubbron! We have tried everything!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Try these articles. If your dog is doing tricks for you…he is more than capable of learning. You are probably rewarding the wrong behaviors, or not being consistent. Read these articles and if you adhere to them I know you will attain success!

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/top-5-remember-potty-training/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/suffering-doggy-accidents-night/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/irritation-barking/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dog-fly-air-greatest-ease/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/rewarding-wrong-behavior/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/consistency/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/achieving-higher-level-reliable-obedience/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/clear-communication/

    [Reply]

    joni Gutchen Reply:

    Minette, Thank you very much for these links, I know you were replying to Don, but I really want these as refresher references. I hope you don’t mind. Love your style, wish I could get my dogs trained by you.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    come visit me in VA 🙂 I am glad you enjoy them, I LOVE writing and sometimes I wonder if I make any sense to anyone but me…so I am glad that sometimes I do 🙂

  25. LC says:

    My little Scottie is a rescue – she was a puppy mill mommy and is adapting very well to the life of luxury. She has never barked and only makes mistakes on the floor when there is thunder and lightening – she’s trained me to put down old towels when storms are predicted! I guess I’ve been lucky in training her because of her horrible life situation before I got her, I’ve never raised my voice to her. And I have to say it’s been a lot easier than with any other dog I’ve ever had. I guess knowing that she hadn’t ever been exposed to so many “normal” things I have been more patient with her and she’s rewarded me with love and accomodation to my asks. Although not the ideal situation, I definitely agree the ‘soft’ approach works much better and both she and I are a lot happier. She had definitely taught me to see things from a whole new perspecitve and I’m grateful for that understanding. Thanks for all your insight!

    [Reply]

  26. John says:

    Having owned a German Shepherd I definitely appreciate the section on digging. It was a constant with my dog when I was not around. I tried many different methods that only worked so so. But I agree with the writer, attention and also exercise seemed to be the most effective method for slowing their desire to unearth your yard. Great article!

    [Reply]

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