Training Through the Dog’s Mentality

Training Through the Dog’s Mentality

In a lot of ways, raising children and training dogs parallel each other.  Concepts like controlling resources, education, manners, structure and leadership go hand in hand in both cases.  However, dogs are not children and each needs to be approached from different perspectives in order to achieve the desired results.

When dealing with our dogs we need to do so through the dog’s mentality, not our own.  By definition, people are different from dogs and have a completely different set of needs, wants, and agendas.  It is when we attach our own human emotions and feelings that we can get into trouble with our dogs.  People have been known to create some amazingly unique behavior problems by treating their dogs like people and not communicating in a way that dogs understand.  Let me site a couple of examples to demonstrate the points that I am trying to make.

Crate Training – In some people’s minds, a crate is the same as jail!  Jail keeps us separated from our loved ones, it has bars, it is tight, confined, and most people realize that jail is a consequence for certain people who have proven they can not handle living in a society.  But that is us attaching our human mentality to something that a dog views as something completely different.  When introduced correctly, to a dog the crate is his or her safe spot, their den, their sleeping quarters, and they will often go into the crate on their own.  These two perspectives are completely different, but remember – we are not asking YOU to stay in a crate.  We are simply using the crate to manage our dog, ensure his safety when not around, and control resources.

Marking a State of Mind – If your child started crying and ran to your side when hearing the loud noise made by the fireworks on the Fourth of July, you would console them. You might tell them, “It’s OK.  It’s only noise, stay by me and you will be fine.”  The child of course hears these words and is consoled by what the parent is telling them.  Now, if you were to do the same when your dog is showing signs of nervousness when meeting strangers or hearing loud noises, you are creating a completely different association.  What your dog hears you saying is, “Good job being afraid of this new person, in fact I would like you to be more afraid next time and act more nervous.  This is how I want you to act when meeting new people!”  Human mentality is delivering a message of comfort and care, but dog mentality hears something completely different because in reality you are marking and rewarding a nervous state of mind.

If you love your dog, do them and yourself a favor – take the human emotions out of the correct situations.  Yes, you can still love on them and have a blast with your dog, but do it at a time and in a way that makes sense to your dog.  If you are not sure what to mark or how to deal with your dog in the absence of human emotions, contact an Austin Dog Trainer today!

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2 Comments
  • Laura Cruzada
    Posted at 13:21h, 22 March

    Good blog!
    BTW – I think we had talked about this once before, but you all should totally add a “status” feed on your home page so we can check the location of your class from our cell phones!

    See y’all soon,
    -LC

  • Dogs and Fireworks | Unleashed Unlimited
    Posted at 21:01h, 23 June

    […] reward any signs of anxiety, stress, or trembling – Remember, we have to train through a dog’s mentality and this means not marking or acknowledging these behaviors.  Instead, redirect your dog into a […]