Are you struggling with dog behavior issues you need to correct?

What is your dogs relationship to an open door?

Is an open door an invitation to run through and go play?

Maybe bark at the neighbors, people walking past, or chase squirrels?

Worse yet, does your dog charge through any chance they get and run away looking for fun and adventure?

Creating clarity around rules, structure, and boundaries are one of the key areas I see dog owners struggling with. They love their dogs SO MUCH that they are constantly adjusting their lifestyle to acclimate for their dogs. For example, keeping doors and windows shut to keep their dogs contained. Even closing the blinds so their dog doesn’t lose their mind any time they see anything outside. Shutting everyone inside.

But, did you know it doesn’t have to be that way? That by spending some time explaining the rules that you would like to enforce with your dog, with love, will allow you both to live more freely?

This morning, I was delighted to enjoy my eggs and a cup of tea with the back door wide open so Seesaw and I could enjoy the sound and the smell of the morning rain. And I couldn't help but think of all the wonderful people in my community that would love to do the same when they have that rare opportunity amidst the craziness of the daily grind. 

One of the areas I consistently see people struggling with is their dogs making lots of poor choices when they are outside of a 'training lesson' - aka REAL LIFE. Sitting for a treat is great but what about when your dog is climbing all over you, your furniture, your guests, fighting with you over the paper towel you dropped, etc?!

I see you out there struggling day in and day out trying everything you read, see, and hear about to try and get your dog to listen- but still struggling with things like charging doors...barking out windows...counter name a few.

This is all very common dog behavior. In some cases, we see even more serious behavioral issues such as fear, anxiety, or aggression. In these cases, it's even MORE important to understand how addressing the small things creates big change.

But how to fix it?!

First, you have to have a CLEAR and SIMPLE training plan to build up skills and communication between you and your dog. Then, you need to be sure you have an understanding of your expectations and goals. Once that is in place... The KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS is to not treat your training lessons as isolated events but to incorporate them into your lifestyle with your dogs.

It is through the lifestyle you lead with your dog that you affect your dogs overall state of mind.

Let me say that again.

It is through the lifestyle you lead with your dog that you affect your dogs overall state of mind.

What does that mean?!

In a nutshell, if your dog has a ton of freedom to make a ton of choices all the time, that puts a lot of stress on them. Not all dogs handle that well. Some make poor choices, some make even poorer choices and this is the root of the development of so many issues with our dogs in our homes. Too much freedom can result in co dependency, in over arousal, in entitlement. These are all a STATE OF MIND. If you want to influence your dogs state of mind to create a calm, well mannered, clear thinking companion, it's up to you to teach them how to be that way. Some dogs are born super chill and relaxed. Many are not. Often times you don't know what you are going to wind up whether you adopt or get a dog from a breeder unless you have done extensive research. Even then Mother Nature might throw you a curveball or two, likely she will.

I want to share with you a secret. As a pro in this industry for about a decade, one of the most common mistakes I see people making early on with their dogs is not practicing enough management (crating, tethering, placing) and allowing their dogs freedom to constantly make impulsive choices. This leads to a lack of clarity for the dog as well as lots of bad habits which then results in a frustrated owner.

I get it, the guilt is real. You are busy. You feel obligated to give your dog more freedom because you work a lot and struggle with feeling like you aren't giving your dog what he or she needs on a consistent basis. Or maybe you CAN'T because their behavior has gotten so bad or out of control that you can't take them anywhere.

It's OK, seriously, OK to set boundaries for your dog. It's OK to tell them NO. And you can do it with LOVE. You can do it in a way that is clear and fair.

The more you guide your dog through life and show them what you expect, the more freedom they will gain and earn as they grow old with you.

Think about raising a kid. When they are infants they are either in a crib, secured inside a swing, or attached to your body. Then as a toddler they are constantly monitored and contained. A few years later they maybe start making certain choices are their own but are still learning so much every day that you are there to teach them about not touching stoves or sharp knives, or to walk across the street without an adult. As young adults they gain more freedom but are still learning and maybe starting to push boundaries more and more. Maybe they start making some poor choices like sneaking out or drinking underage. When you see those things - you tighten up the ship. No more access to the car. Come straight home from school, help with chores, and study. Freedom is earned back through trust, which takes time.

Now, compare that process of raising a child to your process is raising your dog.

How much time did you give them to earn freedom in the house and make their own choices? How much time did you commit to giving them guidance and showing them what is expected before punishing them for bad behavior?

My point is...we put our kids through YEARS and YEARS and YEARS of guidance, management, and structure to teach them how to make responsible choices. But far too often, we expect our dogs, a totally different species from us who are constantly just trying to figure out how to exist within these 4 walls and on this crazy leash that pulls me back from everything they want to check out and explore, to just know how we want them to behave.

We get dogs to enjoy them. To enjoy spending time with them. To have an adventure buddy. To love them and to be loved by them.

But LOVE also comes in the form of setting boundaries. And when you do, you'll find your relationship will improve.

Take your time with giving your dog all the freedom in the world. Giving them freedom when they understand the rules and can handle it will yield much better results!