Are You Reliable?
Is that an adjective you would use to describe yourself? Or better yet, would your friends describe you as reliable?
Reliability is one of those traits we all strive for; to be trustworthy, honest, consistent and authentic.
I like to think I am reliable, and I would like to think my friends and the people I work with would describe me as reliable.
Would Your Dog Describe You as a Reliable Owner?
Put aside the fact that dogs see only the good in their partners and we know ultimately he would never trash talk you 😉 but would he call you reliable?
Now don’t jump to answer that question, let’s talk about it!
So often we are reliable to our friends and family, but we often let our dogs down.
This wouldn’t be such a big problem in dog ownership, since dogs are so very forgiving, but people then often blame their dogs for bad behavior.
Does Any of This Sound Like You…
- Do you ever tell your dog you are going to give him a treat and don’t deliver?
- Do you use this tactic to get your dog to come to you, or did you, but you don’t give your dog the treat when he actually comes to you?
- Do you use phrases like “go for a ride” or “go for a walk” but don’t indulge him in the actual activity? Do you or a family member ever click your dog’s clicker without following through with the reward?
- Or do you simply let him down by not taking him for a walk, training with him, or otherwise spending quality time with him?
The opposite of reliable is unreliable, undependable, questionable and deceitful.
Whereas those descriptions may seem a little harsh, how many of us fall into this trap when it comes to our dogs?
Many people complain that their dog has behavior problems or that he simply doesn’t listen, and when I go to their homes to investigate the ultimate quality of their relationship and set up a behavior modification program one of the first questions that I ask is about the owner’s fairness, consistency and reliability.
Dogs can’t learn unless we are fair and consistent!
Imagine for a moment the average owner that calls his dog; at first the dog comes but perhaps the owner ignores him when he comes or worse chastises him for something he did or didn’t do. At this point the dog figures out that coming has no good consequences and only has neutral or negative consequences.
Next time the owner calls, the dog is much less likely to come; why should he? This time if or when he does, he definitely gets punished, which solidifies his feelings that coming to his owner has no good payoff.
Sometimes his owner may treat him, but most often he is met with a neutral indifference.
Then how often do owners call their dog “Rex, COME” and when he doesn’t come they say “Rex come, you want a biscuit?” or “Rex come, wanna go for a ride?” but then when the dog gets there he is dragged by the collar inside the house and punished?
Fair owners bring clarity to dogs.
Dogs don’t understand us! We simply don’t speak the same language that they do. They live in the moment and do things that feel good regardless of consequences. Dogs don’t really understand consequences (at least the negative ones that come “after” the behavior) very well.
But, dogs do understand fairness, reliability and consistency.
It is by being fair that we can best communicate to our dogs and build a stronger bond.
It’s Simple, Really…
- Find your dog’s motivator.
- When you give a command; reinforce and reward it.
- Give your dog a reason to listen to you otherwise the squirrels and everything else is more rewarding!
- If there are negative consequences for bad behavior do not wait until “after” the behavior or later when your dog comes to you, make sure it is immediate.
- Spend time training your dog. If you don’t teach him, he doesn’t understand what you are asking.
- Spend time bonding with your dog and training. Go hiking, take him for a walk, for a ride; anywhere really it doesn’t matter! Spending time together is essential for your relationship.
- He will listen to you better if you actually spend time together “doing something” (not just sitting on the couch…dogs need exercise and mental stimulation) and enjoy each other’s company.
Become a reliable dog owner follow through with your commands, your promises, and fulfill his exercise and mental needs and you will have a better dog!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.