“Slow and steady wins the race” is the moral of Aesop’s fable entitled The Hare and the Tortoise. This thinking also applies to raising a puppy and changing behaviors in an adolescent or adult dog. Working with each individual animal’s temperament, learning strengths, motivators, emotional states, and thresholds is important in achieving reliable results. It’s a process, so patience is required.
Use Your Dog’s Timetable
Socialization, training, de-sensitizing, and counter conditioning really happen on each dog’s own timetable. We humans may want to impose ours, but that usually doesn’t work out so well and places undue stress on everyone. Repeated exposure(to people, other animals, new places, and situations) with a structure and meaningful reinforcement erodes fear and builds confidence over time. Puppies change with developmental periods into adolescence and early adulthood, which is a two-to-three year process. Behavior changes for adult dogs can take six months or longer, depending on numerous factors.
“Listen” to Your Dog
Effective and humane behavior programs for all-age dogs work with distance and time frame thresholds, among others. When you are rushing forward too fast, your dog will let you know. Learn how to “listen” to him.
Many are puzzled when the dog is walking along and suddenly….stops. Our natural human inclination is to coax her along. After all, there is nothing to be afraid of. Or is there? What is your dog telling you? This is a common occurrence for dogs who have experienced little of the world at large. So much to unpack! The most effective response for us humans is to, yes, give your dog a moment. Listen to his need to mentally process his surroundings before proceeding.
Sit, Down, Stay
The “stay” cue is one of the most challenging in dog training. It requires a high degree of emotional control and focus on the part of the dog AND a protocol on the part of the owner. Each dog learns to maintain duration, accept distance, and tolerate distractions at his individual pace. Reliability depends upon setting appropriate criteria for that animal, so the dog always earns the cookie! This requires diligent training over time to generalize in all contexts and steadily make adjustments for success throughout age phases.
Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel CPDT-KA, 2019 all rights reserved
Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC