Stand on Your Head and Make me a Sandwich
Stand on your head and make me a sandwich, seriously I am hungry!!
As humans, I think we are born multi-taskers but the older we get the more complex the tasks, behaviors and our skills need to become.
I am a woman, and I know that as women we are even better at doing a million things at once. This allows us to have children, watch them and ensure that they and the rest of the family don’t starve. Anyone who has ever had a baby or children knows sometimes you can shower and know exactly where the baby is and what he is doing all at the same time we are making a shopping list and thinking about dinner.
The good thing about dogs?
They are not multi-taskers!
In fact, most dogs have a difficult time doing 2 or three simple things at one time! I think in this ONE instance we might be better at them than something (don’t worry they still have more attributes than us)!
Why is that good?
Because with a good foundation and dog training you can overcome a lot of behavior problems and dog training you can overcome a lot of behavior problems.
If you work hard at home teaching your dog some obedience skills, or even tricks these can come in handy when your dog starts getting nervous.
I cannot stress enough that this training needs to start and continue at home in a comfortable environment conducive to learning. Dogs can’t learn when they are stressed or scared so it is not going to be effective to try and teach your dog in the presence of a man.
But, if you play games and teach your dog at home then when you first see a man at a safe distance (this will depend on the comfort level of your dog and before he starts showing signs of stress) you can begin to ask for some of these fun tasks to get your dog’s mind off of what he is liable to focus on.
In your dog’s mind he sees the man at 20 yards away, but immediately you ask him to give you his paw, shake hands, sit, down or give you eye contact. At this moment your dog’s mind can relax and instead of being stressed his mind goes “ YES I CAN DO THAT!” and then he can begin to relax.
This allows the man to pass or for you to slowly get closer and closer. This may take time as I describe in this article about desensitization.
If this isn’t working, chances are you are not far enough away from your dog’s stressor or your obedience foundation is not strong enough (he doesn’t listen to you 90% of the time at home).
Go further back and try again.
For Instance….Say You Have a Dog Aggressive Dog
I personally have been here, and it is the reason I got into dog training! Your dog becomes so intensely locked on any other dog or animal it sees it is frustrating and almost impossible to keep him from barking, lunging, and pulling.
But, if you work on building a good foundation of obedience at home it can work for you even in these distracting situations.
The key here is to notice the dog before your dog sees him and give the command BEFORE your dog gets reactive!
If your dog is already pouncing, barking, frothing and lunging you have lost the battle.
My dog aggressive dog was a Rottweiler and I got very skilled at scanning my environment and seeing a dog before she did. I can spot a dog from 1000 yards away!!
I would see the dog, judge which direction it was going and therefore which way I could go and how to move forward with her training. If it was a safe distance I would give her a gamut of “rapid fire” commands.
SIT, DOWN, SIT, DOWN, SIT, WATCH ME, SHAKE, HEEL, DOWN, HIGH FIVE.
At this point the dog would probably be past or I at least had a good impression of how much of her attention I really had. If it was working I could continue playing the game and if it was not we could turn around back up and try again!
Although This Seems Like Magic….
And in some respects it is because you are manipulating the abilities of your dog; it also is not.
This absolutely will not work if you are not willing to put in the time doing the training at home!!
With my Rottie, I tried all of the “magical” ideas, and even compulsion (I was 18 and she would try to attack me if I popped her with a prong collar) but none of them worked until I realized that positive reinforcement and actual dog training was the key.
My dog couldn’t stare at the barking dog in the back yard, hackle, and bark and also give me “puppy push-ups” (sit, down, sit, down, sit) she just wasn’t capable of it! So the more I worked on her obedience and she had success around other dogs and was never attacked or confronted she began to give up her bad behavior! She had learned other coping skills.
Eventually she was even able to be loose with other dogs at my work in play groups!
It is all about using your mind, and your knowledge about dogs to get your dog to do what you would like and preform for you!
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.