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food for thought

Photo by Mel Taylor for Devon Dogs

Food for Thought by Kelly Murrell

Your dog, your rules

I think we can all agree that there are certain areas of training that our dogs need in order to be super canine citizens! For example; it’s really not appropriate for your dog to go and gate crash a family picnic and help themselves to the food! But then there are certain things that are really up to you, especially when it comes to inside your home. Whether you decide if your dog is able to get comfy on the sofa or on your bed, it’s up to you. Where your dog sleeps at night, it’s up to you.

Whether you allow your dog to jump up on you, it’s up to you – and they can certainly differentiate, so if you are OK with it but you don’t want them jumping up on everyone, put it on cue (verbal or visual). Essentially, with most things, it’s your dog and it’s your rules! You have just got to decide!

Pick your Battles

Ok, so here’s a question; is the battle worth having? Now there are certain life skills our dogs need that we, for sure, should work on, but then are some things where it’s up to you if it’s a battle you want to pick! Here’s an example; you so long for a dog who can relax next to you while you enjoy a leisurely lunch at a restaurant, but your dog struggles with calmness. Now, this struggle can definitely be solved with training the games that will feed into the concepts needed, but ask yourself; for who’s benefit is this training for? You see, some dogs just aren’t suited to certain situations and rather than fret and wish your dog would be OK with a certain situation, except it and embrace your dog for who they are and be happy that sometimes it is better off for your dog to not be involved in every activity/event/situation, whatever the case may be.  

Your Dog’s Breed

There’s a lot of thinking out there that certain breeds of dog need a certain method of training, or perhaps special consideration, or even a reason as to why some things just won’t work for them. With concept based training, we certainly do take the breed into account, but like with all dogs, we work out what concepts need enhancing and what games will help to grow those concepts.

Here’s the thing though, we don’t change the WAY we train due to the breed. We also consider the dog as an individual. Even though breed traits can be prevalent in a dog, each dog has their own personality. So the take away message from this is to certainly consider the breed of dog you own, but consider more their individual personality. Know that with every training struggle there really is a game for that!

Be Fair to your Dog!

Ask yourself; does your dog REALLY know what is being asked of them? If you are seeing some failure, take it as feedback, take it onboard and make a plan. Acknowledge that maybe you moved things on too fast, but don’t beat yourself up about it! Don’t guilt trip yourself! Look at it this way; if you always feel warm, fuzzy and comfortable when your training your dog, it is likely that you aren’t moving forward. So, some failure isn’t bad, but be fair to your dog and know that you just need to build the skill more and maybe re-visit grassroots level. Going back over something isn’t going backwards!

Don’t Ask if you Know the Answer is Going to be No!

What on earth do we mean by this?! Dog can’t speak! Here’s an example to explain what we mean; you and your dog are enjoying a road-walk, you turn a corner and your dog has seen their favourite person approaching. They get extremely excited – they simply adore this person. Isn’t it funny how are dogs sometimes pick their favourites?! At this moment, asking your dog to ‘sit’ is going to be super hard for them, their brain has blown. So the answer is a going to be a big fat no!

In situations where you know it’s going to be a no, don’t ask in the first place! Be aware of your dog’s headspace! Use tools to manage situations, for example; use a long line for recall situations where you know it’s going to be a no, if you ask!

Increase your Distance

Going back to the above example of your dog seeing their favourite person, in this instance moving your dog away from the approaching person (or whatever the distraction may be!) and increasing distance, THEN asking for a sit will far more likely result in success.

Check out more of our Thursday training blogs HERE. And for even more food for thought, check out Devon Dogs virtual Sexier than a Squirrel Challenge plus the Training Academy is open again. These are both fab to help continue homeschooling with our social isolation. 🙂


Do you have a training issue you want to tackle? Come and stay with us in our cottage style apartments, right in the heart of Dartmoor, and make the most of our fantastic training facilities onsite.


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