It’s all too easy to stay with the things we know and tell ourselves that’s the best and safest place to be.
But I’ve heard a lot of talk recently – or rather read a lot of articles and posts on various social platforms about how just because something was it doesn’t have to remain the same. This has particularly been noticeable for me following dog trainers and other well respected pet professional.
And if ever there was a time this rings true it’s now in the middle of a pandemic.
If we learned anything this last year it‘s that nothing is forever and things do change. It has by far been one of the hardest times of our lives for many of us and it has by no means been a pleasant one at times. But it is an example of how we can and do adapt. How we see the world in a new light.
So despite a world pandemic which by no means am I undermining – the prospect of change is good. It allows us to break from bad habits , old routines and places we may well have been just plodding along in.
So back to the top and how just because some thing was doesn’t mean it has to remain.
Dog training has changed. Not just that we are all working on line and the results are outstanding but on a personal level and how we treat and train our dogs.
Take something I trained a year ago. Now I might train it differently. Because I’ve been open to change. To education. To seeing how as we learn more and more about dogs and other species we can progress in our methods and become more ethical in our training.
Take a sit.……
Sit is one of the first behaviours a dog learns. It’s super cute and as any puppy owner will know it’s exciting and a great achievement for both parties.
But then there are times we ask for a sit and the sit doesn’t happen.
Only yesterday I saw someone forcibly pushing down on thier dogs back to make it sit at the crossing.
Why was it so necessary for that dog to sit?
To keep it still and in position and safe-Yes !
To be in control -Yes!
But why wouldnt the dog sit? Because it was stubborn ? Because it’s was trying to be the alpha ?
Or how about the ground was wet ?
Sit wasn’t the most natural position for the dog?
The dog had pain ?
The dog was anxious or overwhelmed by the closeness to the road or the many other people passing ?
There are lots of reasons and for that reason if a dog doesnt sit then i would ask why? A dogs outward behaviour is a reflection of its internal feelings and a signal to us something isn’t right.
So what can we do instead ?
Obviously near a road asking a dog to lie down isn‘t an option and besides if the wet ground was the reason the dog didn’t sit in he first place then asking it to lie down isn’t going to be very successful either!
We can teach the dog to wait . To hold a position and reinforce the calmness and stillness of that behaviour.
So as you can see
Sit is a very simple behaviour but it doesn’t mean just because it used to happen that it has to continue.
Age , injury , a negative experience to name but a few can all be reasons the sit is no longer something we ask for. It’s in the dogs interest to look at why and train a similar appropriate behaviour or perhaps giver our dog space. This meets the dogs needs- and ours! For comfort and safety of all. Building communication and bridging the gap between the dog and us.
Do you continue to do things that hurt you? Or do you find an alternative? Do you have that choice ? And if you don’t have that choice – for example you’re in a job you no longer like do you carry on ? And if so how do you feel? What do you dream of on the way home from work? Something better I imagine!
And in time you become stronger with support from others. And you leave that job with the boss who just doesn’t like you. Because things change and we need to change.
It takes time and courage and most likely someone who understands and cares enough to help lighten that burden.
So with every day that I work with dogs I ask myself why ? I learn something new . A new take on things. On behaviour. On choice . And giving our dogs choice. By opening up that communication and trust we can help our dogs to feel better. To learn better and to trust and have a happier , more comfortable life.
So take a second the next time your dog doesn’t do something. Ask yourself is it really that important? Of course safety is important. Recall is important . Control and management is extremely important . But it can be done in a way that we work with- instead of against our dog .
Change is good!!!
Thanks for reading