What have you taught your dog today? Training our dogs, does not only happen during training classes. Dogs learn all the time. Like all things in life, there is always some sort of reaction to something that happens, dogs are very clever and figure out which reactions works for them.
If you come home after a bad day, and feel frustrated, your dog knows that the second you walk through the door. Most dogs will try to diffuse the tension, in the best way they know how. So they might become very boisterous and clown-ish, to see if they can get a smile out of you. Some dogs will offer lots of appeasement behaviours, rolling around, crawling around, putting on their biggest puppy dog eyes, again to see if they can relieve some of that tension. Dogs repeat behaviours that work, and if this is something you see your dog doing regularly, it’s because they generally do manage to get a smile from you, which breaks the tension in the situation.
It’s one example, and it might not be something you focus on, however, this is part of ‘training’ your dog. Many dog trainers put a lot of emphasis on how important it is to train your dog. I do think that most people think that this means that they have to take their dogs to obedience classes throughout the rest of the dog’s life. That is not really what we mean.
What is meant is, take the time to teach your dog how to live with you, how to behave in your home, and if you enjoy taking your dog on outings, spend time time teaching your dog how you’d like them to behave. Your dog is learning stuff anyway, use this to your benefit. Reinforce behaviours you like, and do not take their established good behaviours for granted, reinforce those as well. Training your dog is much more than an hour of formal obedience class, sometimes it’s a simple as a ‘good boy!’ when your dog waits at an open gate instead of rushing out or leaving a piece of food that was dropped by accident.
So what have you taught your dog today?