Just Who Is Training Whom

Training is a two-way street: Buddy is just as involved in training you as you are in trying to train him. The trouble is that Buddy is already a genius at training you, a skill with which he was born. Put another way, a dog comes into the world knowing what is to his advantage and what isn't, and he'll do whatever he can to get what he wants. You, on the other hand, have to discover the skills of training him, just as we had to. (See Chapter 2.)

One of these skills is figuring out how to recognize when you're inadvertently rewarding behaviors you may not want to reinforce. Begging at the dinner table is a good example. When Buddy begs at the table and you slip him some food, he is training you to feed him from the table. You need to ask yourself, "Is this a behavior I want to encourage?" If the answer is no, then stop doing it, no matter what. (And check out Chapter 7.)

Most dogs eventually ignore commands that don't lead to tangible consequences. When he responds to a command, reward him by praising him. If he chooses not to respond to a command he has been taught, correct him.

Now look at another situation: Buddy has taken himself for an unauthorized walk through the neighborhood. You're late for an appointment but don't want to leave with Buddy out on the streets. You frantically call and call. Finally, Buddy makes an appearance, happily sauntering up to you. You, on the other hand, are fit to be tied, and you let him know your displeasure in no uncertain terms by giving him a thorough scolding. You now need to ask yourself, "Is this the kind of greeting that will make Buddy want to come to me?" If the answer is no, then stop doing it, no matter what. (And check out Chapter 8.)

Here are two examples of how your dog is training you:

i Buddy drops his ball in your lap while you're watching television and you throw it for him.

i Buddy nudges or paws your elbow when you're sitting on the couch and you pet him.

Buddy has trained you well. Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all, provided you can tell him to go lie down when you don't feel like throwing the ball or petting him.

Dog Care Duty

Dog Care Duty

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