Dog Motivation and How To Find It

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Dog Motivation and How To Find It

Dog training is all about dog motivation in my opinion. How can I motivate a dog to do what I want and what I do not want? I feel that dog training is finding your dogs motivation and using it to your advantage. Dog motivation can be many different things and it is different for every dog. Just like humans, no two dogs are exactly alike. Fortunately, the majority of dogs are motivated by food, toys, praise, or a combination.

Finding your dogs motivation

Some people already know what motivates their dog. It is obvious. Others have no idea. Luckily it is not too hard to figure out. Most dogs with prey drive will do just about anything for a ball. If your dog wants to chase any fast moving object such as a lizard, squirrel, cat, etc… your dog is likely motivated with by a toy (ball/tug).
If you feel that you can put food down at any part of the day and your dog will gobble it up, guess what… Your dog is likely food motivated! Can your dog never have enough affection? When you stop petting your dog, they will nuzzle their head into your hand or lift up your paw as to say, “Keep petting me please, I didn’t tell you to stop”. If this sounds like familiar, affection will be your dog’s motivation.

Creating motivation

Now, when I train client dogs, I try to use their daily kibble as motivation. It works great for some dogs, and not so great for others. Using food is an awesome way to train IF it works for you! Its quick and you get a lot more repetition in as opposed to using a toy. You can build food drive up in a dog by cutting down their portion size until they are eager to train for their daily kibble. It takes dogs time to catch on and really buy into that program. Although, nothing beats using your dog’s natural motivation.

I found my dogs motivation, now what?

So you found what motivates your dog… it doesn’t do you any good until you put it to use! Use that motivation to your advantage. It doesn’t matter whether your dog is motivated by food, toys, or praise, what matters is how they get those things.

If your dog knows the food gets put down twice a day no matter what, why would they work for it when they can wait awhile and get it for free? If you are leaving toys around the house or just giving your dog a ball to play with as he pleases, why would he work any harder for it when you want him to? If you’re always petting, praising, and showing affection towards your dog; they are most likely taking it for granted. Use all of these things to your advantage by not giving it away for free.

Once you begin to leverage your dog’s motivation in return for training, you will quickly begin to see your dog looking at you in a different light. You become the distributor of their resources.

Dog Leadership

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Dog Leadership

What is dog leadership and how should we display it to our dogs? There are many different ways to show a dog leadership. Most people tend to think dog leadership is loving them, providing materialistic things such as food and toys. As dog owners, I’m sure we can all agree we got ours for at least one common reason, companionship. We instantly fall in love with our new puppy or dog. We are so excited to care for them, buy them toys, food, bowls, collars, leashes, the list goes on and on. The affection, couch cuddles and praise, it all starts instantly and never really stops. Sure we might yell or say no when they chew up your favorite shoes, or leather couch, but what good did that do? Did they really learn from their mistake? How do we prevent unwanted behavior in the future?

IF LOVE TRAINED DOGS…

If love trained dogs, there would be no such thing as a dog trainer. Dogs would be all be well behaved if love and affection were the answer. Dog owners do not need to be taught how to love their dogs. Nobody is lacking in the amount of affection and praise they give their dog. Yes, dogs need affection but they also need more than that. Much more.

They need a leader, someone they can look to for guidance on how to navigate in this human world. Some of you might be saying “But I am a leader for my dog, I buy their food every month, I pay their vet bills, I buy them toys all the time”. Unfortunately while all of those things are required in dog ownership, dogs themselves to not see that as proper leadership. Yes they see you putting the food in a bowl every night, but you always put the food in the bowl every night, you are the food dispenser.

WHAT DOGS NEED EVEN THOUGH YOU MIGHT NOT THINK SO

It is a recurring theme. Dogs with unwanted behaviors (according to their owners) have never been held accountable for their actions or even told what to do instead. I see it all the time, dogs doing whatever they please, when they please, and why? Why not?? They are getting away with it! If I was a dog and didn’t have any consequences for my actions, I wouldn’t stop either.

People love to humanize dogs, so lets humanize a dog. Lets try this… As humans, we must abide by certain laws and limitations in life. There are rules in place that if broken, are followed by consequences. The reason WHY I don’t speed while driving is because I know there will be multiple consequences. A speeding ticket, my insurance can go up, more likely to get into an accident, injuring myself or worse, someone else. So why is it that we let our dogs get away with anything they want?

To put it simply, dogs need (and want) rules, structure, boundaries, and guidance. That is how to show true dog leadership. When a dog feels you have control of the situation, they start to feel safer, they are more trusting, they buy into the “program” because it feels good for them. Dog’s are pack animals, they want to feel included and more important they want someone to follow and look to for guidance.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to not give your dog affection and praise. Please continue to do so, but make sure you are helping and not hurting your dog when you do. Start teaching your dog what is expected of them. Teach them the rules of the house and world around them. Create good habits and routines for your dog to look forward to. You will put your dogs mind at ease when you give them someone to look to for guidance.

START PROVIDING DOG LEADERSHIP

Obedience training is a wonderful gateway to the world of rules, structure, boundaries and guidance. The first thing is, you can’t setup rules and boundaries without a consequence for breaking the rules or crossing the boundaries. You’re going to have to be okay with telling your dog ‘no’ eventually. But first, you want to teach your dog what to do before you start telling them what not to do. I would start with the basic commands, I only teach a handful, which are Sit, Down, Place, Heel, Recall. To be honest that’s really all you need as far as commands go.

I would also teach them to honor thresholds. The car door. The house doors. The crate door. Those are all thresholds they should not be able to cross without your permission. Yes, I know… if your dog cannot talk, how are they going to ask your permission. With eye contact. They should be sitting, looking up at you as if to say “Can we go already?!”

Another way to create this leadership is to make them work for their food. I’m pretty sure you don’t eat for free so why does your dog? Get your dog into the habit of working for their daily kibble through obedience training. Eventually you can fade out the food once they have learned their commands. When that time comes, teach your dog they need to wait patiently while you prepare their food. And just because the food bowl is on the ground doesn’t mean they get to eat! Get that eye contact for them again. And then give them permission to eat.

Theres more to it then that, but by following those simple tips of advice, you will be off to a great start. You will start to see your dog look at you in a different light, a more positive one, I might add.

First things to teach a puppy

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First things to teach a puppy

When I first brought my puppy home, I’ll admit… I was clueless. I didn’t know what first things to teach a puppy. When I say puppy I’m referring to an 8 to 10 week-old dog. I researched for weeks on what to do when you first bring home a puppy. How to train, how to potty train, I wanted to be prepared and proactive! Nothing I found out there really, truly, prepared me for what my puppy had in store for me.

Hopefully you are reading this before, or just slightly after you bring home a new puppy. I will do my best to prepare you for what’s ahead and what I suggest as the first things to teach a puppy. This information will pay off ten fold in the long run. Put in the time now, up front, you will thank me later. Your puppy will thank you as well.

If you’ve never raised a puppy before or if it’s been awhile and you’ve forgotten you are in for a treat. When I say treat, I mean a full time job. Raising a puppy is constant work, supervision, and training. That puppy will not know how to live in your human world and it will drive you absolutely nuts if you let it. It will not know the difference between peeing outside or on your carpet. They won’t know it is not okay to chew on your favorite shoes opposed to the puppy toys you bought them. Everything is new to them. They are trying to figure it out and you can speed up the process by following my simple advice.

CRATE YOUR DOG

  • I know your puppy is cute, in fact it’s the cutest puppy ever and you want to spend all the time you can with them! Please resist the urge and spend time crate training them. It will be one of the best things you can do both for you and your dog. Your puppy needs its own safe place, a place where it won’t be bothered, a place it can relax.
  • Your puppy should be spending about 18-20 hours each day in their crate. Every nap your puppy takes (which will be lots) need to be spent in the crate. They need to learn how to be calm in the crate and that includes when you are home as well as when you leave.
  • Anytime you cannot directly supervise your puppy, it needs to be in their crate. Simply put, your puppy will get into trouble if they are unsupervised, I promise you.
  • Teach your puppy to go into the crate on command, as well as exit the crate on command. The only time your puppy should be let out of the crate is when they are in a calm state. If you let your puppy out when they are whining or barking, you are teaching them that is their ticket out.
  • It is much easier to potty train a dog when utilizing a crate.
  • To make it simple your puppy should only be out of its crate for the following: training, playing, and going outside for potty and walks.

POTTY TRAINING

  • If you follow the above advice on crating your puppy, that will make potty training easier. Any and every time you take that puppy out of the crate, immediately take them outside to potty. As soon as they potty outside, reward them (using their daily kibble)! Let them know they did a good job. Make using the bathroom outside fun. Always bring them to the same exact spot outside and reward consistently.
  • If your puppy doesn’t go potty outside directly after being let out of the crate, they go right back in the crate. No free roaming the house.
  • Dogs do not like going to the bathroom where they sleep. If you are consistently crating your dog, they will quickly realize this is their area and are less likely to potty in their crate.
  • If you notice your puppy is going potty in their crate, it is either too big or you are not taking them outside often enough. Your puppy should have just enough room to stand up and turn around comfortably.
  • Monitor their food and water intake and take them out accordingly. Make a chart if you need to consisting of what times they are eating and drinking water and what times they are going potty.
  • Be proactive, not reactive when potty training your puppy. I would rather take my dog out to use the bathroom too often than not often enough.

OBEDIENCE TRAINING

  • It is never too early to start training your new puppy. You are actually training them the minute they enter your home whether you realize it or not.
  • Puppies will do anything for food. You can teach all of basic obedience to your puppy using food. Sit, Down, Place, Recall can all easily be taught using food while training.
  • You should be using their daily kibble to train them. No treats are needed. Get your dog into the habit of working for their kibble and that no meals are free. They will be happy to work for their kibble; it will be plenty of a reward.

CREATE GOOD HABITS AND ROUTINES

  • Dogs are creatures of habit and strive from routine. They look forward to routine. The more consistent you can be with your dog, training on a daily basis, giving your dog structure, boundaries, and rules to abide by the happier they will be.
  • Your dog does not need access to your entire house. Until you teach them what is right from wrong, they are likely to get into trouble in the form of using the bathroom indoors, chewing on your shoes, furniture, etc.
  • Show your dog how to live in this human world, show them how you would like them to behave in your house as opposed to being reactive and getting upset and frustrated when they do something you do not agree with.

 

If you follow these simple steps and guidelines I can assure you raising your puppy will be a lot less stressful than if you didn’t do these things. Again, these are the first things to teach a puppy that I would do. Create good habits from the start. Let your puppy know you control the resources and that all good things come from you. The quicker they learn that, the quicker the bond between you two will develop into a life long balanced relationship.