Kyra Sundance wrote The Dog Rules: 14 Secrets to developing the dog you want. It’s a great book to get you thinking about the positive relationship you want to have with your companion. I’m going to give an overview on the wonderful tips the author mentions, but I encourage you to either purchase or find a copy of this book.
Some of the rules mentioned include encouraging trust in order for your dog to want to succeed. This is done by being fair, specific, and clear. You want to mean it when you say it. Be a leader.
Consistency is the key, but it must be done without a hint of frustration. Dogs pick up on our emotions and it would be prudent to make sure we focus on solutions rather than problems. Sundance wants us to ask: What do I want my dog to do instead (of X)? X being the behavior we want changed. Think: “One command, one consequence.”
Another set of rules deal with enjoying time with your dog. Exercise and play is an important component of the training process. It’s a way to give your dog attention and reward for good behavior. So, if the dog does something inappropriate, not playing could be a consequence. Turn away or walk away. Once the dog calms down, return the attention and resume training. Your ‘happy voice’ will be a sign that things are going well. Your body language is what your dog is reading.
The biggie that I try to enforce with my own pets is using their name for pleasant situations so they don’t associate it with the negative. Sundance also suggests not using it in stressful situations. You want to use their name when you want them to do something such as ‘come’ and ‘sit’ not ‘leave it’ or ‘stay.’
And most importantly, don’t hold a grudge. Sundance suggests we forgive our dog and provide opportunities for better behavior. It is all a learning process.