You would never buy a house supported by nothing but sticks, would you? Of course not! We all know a houses foundation is one of the most important aspects of a sturdy, quality building. Quite often, and it seems to only be getting more prevalent, people do not take this same approach to raising their dogs. They want quick fixes and short cuts that simply do not exist, at least not in the long term.
For whatever reason many dog owners have an "I'll fix that later" mentality. "I just got this puppy/dog, they need time to adjust" is one we hear all the time. The problem with that is it is MUCH easier to learn the right way from day one than to undo things later. Sometimes things can't be undone, only managed. You are unknowingly causing your new dog stress by not giving them the rules up front. Think of staying at a friends house. For the first few days they let you do whatever you want, and you get comfortable in that routine. Then, on an arbitrary day, they start making a bunch of new rules that they wanted you to follow all along but did not tell you. How would you feel? You didn't want to upset your friend in the first place, but you were not given all the information to behave to their standards. It is unfair and unnecessary.
Another one we hear often is "I only want to work on XYZ issues, why are we talking about impulse control and boundaries?". Put simply, the boundaries you set with your pet are the foundation of if they respect you or not moving forward. If they blow you off every chance they get, or find value in doing the things you ask of them. I use the example of Math Vs Science. When studying science, you can know a lot about one topic and nothing about another and get by fine. But in math, you need to know the basics before you can get to the advanced. Unless you are a genius, there is no going from knowing nothing about math to doing advance calculations. Raising a dog is like math. You have to start with the foundations, even if it's boring, to get to the more fun/big stuff. This is why sometimes students get frustrated asking me "what's next, what's next" and getting the answer "you haven't mastered this step yet, that's what's next".
Dogs and owners are quite susceptible to what we call "emotional junk food". They become so codependent on each other they can't possibly have a healthy relationship. Next time you do something with your dog stop and think, is this REALLY for my dog? Or does it serve me? We cheapen our relationship with dogs by treating them as anything other than dogs. Owners are becoming more and more aware about physical health for our dogs, but many are still doling out this emotional junk food every day with no end in sight. Too much attention, the wrong attention, attention given the wrong way at the wrong time; all of this sets your dog up to be hindered emotionally. Building a foundation of firm, fair leadership and metered, appropriate affection will go so far in the life of you and your dog. If you want to find out how, please reach out!
For the Dogs,