Accepting And Guiding Your Dog’s Choices

stubborn bichon
Photo Credit to Gareth1953

People are always trying to make their dog be good.

They drag the leash this way and that, choke the dog, pick up the dog, physically force it to do what they want while insisting “sit sit sit sit SIT!”. But it keeps on trying to misbehave. Unless something changes, they will live in a constant state of war.

Don’t fight your dog. Don’t try to force your dog to do your bidding, because it will just make the dog wish he didn’t have to.

Isn’t it better to have your dog actively choose for herself that she wants to please and obey you? Isn’t it better for her to see food on the coffee table and choose not to steal it, or to see a cat and choose not to chase it?

Instead of trying to make your dog behave in a certain way, set up a world in which your dog will actively choose to do so.

Set up basic positive and negative consequences – if the dog sits, he gets dinner. If he doesn’t, then no dinner. If the dog walks close to you, she gets to continue her walk and gets the occasional treat. If she goes up ahead and drags, the walk stops. Too bad for her.

Then let the dog make his or her own choices.

At first those choices will be the wrong ones.

He misses a meal. She only gets to go three feet down the front path.

You don’t yell, you don’t nag, you don’t force. You simply accept the dog’s choice and enact the consequence that comes with it, good or bad.

Then the dog decides that he doesn’t like this. So he chooses. He chooses to sit. He chooses to walk nicely on leash.

You can’t make a living thing do anything. You have to respect that they are independant living, thinking, feeling beings who make their own choices for their own reasons. Your role is to guide them by giving them reasons to do what you would like them to do and let them choose to do it themselves.

And if they do the “wrong” thing, then that was their decision and we respect and honor it… as well as the consequences that come with it.

A dog’s life is too short to spend fighting. You and your dog should be a joyful team, not opposing armies in a battle of wills. So drop the war, take a look at how you would like your dog’s behaviour to change, and then set up your dog’s world so that it will be easy for her to choose to do so.

And if you need help… you know where to find us!