Untrainable Dog – Are You Making This Mistake Too?
Owning an “untrainable dog” means constant frustration for you. Your dog maybe never comes when you call him or behaves in unwanted, unpleasant ways. In your efforts to “rehabilitate” him you may, occasionally, even use methods you hate.
And what if you dog hates those methods so much that he even turns against you?
When your dog does not follow your wishes or commands you feel rejected and frustrated – even angry!
Those difficult feelings then drive your behavior towards your dog, making matters worse day by day.
An angry owner produces an angry or fearful dog. This vicious circle which needs to be broken if you want to make things better for your pooch and yourself.
Here is what I mean:
A young woman, a trainee dog trainer, came to me for help. She owns a young crossbreed she dog who behaves in a difficult way. The lady tried everything her trainer told her but nothing changed matters – things just began to get out of hand.
In her anger and frustration she even hit her dog, confining her to her crate and suchlike.
Her dog now, confused and frightened, does not come back in after having been to the toilet outside. So her owner got a bowl of food, knelt down and persuaded her dog to come to mummy. This is what the dog then reluctantly did.
By this time the lady had become so angry and frustrated that she grabbed her dog, pulled her into the house and “threw” her into the crate.
When I gently raised the question “why” she did this she told me that she would have praised the dog for coming if the dog had come when called. Since the dog had only come to get her food she was not being obedient and therefore could not be praised but needed to be punished for being disobedient. Using the food bowl had only been a measure taken to get the dog near enough to grab her.
In her well meaning intent this lady had actually reinforced the very behavior she wants her dog to change. By creating an unpleasant situation she actually frightened her bitch even more thus making it more difficult to trustfully come to mummy when called.
Due to her anger she violated the “Golden Rule of Dog- Ownership” which is:
- Never ever, in a million years, punish your dog when he comes to you.
This rule guarantees that your dog trusts you and likes to come to you. Being with you must always be pleasant for him.
If and when you punish him when he comes to you he will become unsure of your love. I know that it is not easy to actually praise a dog when he finally comes after you have called him a dozen times, nor is it easy to praise him after he comes back from that unwanted hunting session in the forest.
But there is a difference between praise and punishment. Praising him for coming to you is the best you can do in any situation but even when you feel you can’t praise him you must never ever punish him.
- This is because it’s always the last action which gets reinforced through praise or punishment. So when you punish him when he comes you actually punish him for coming – which in turn makes him want to avoid coming to you even when you call him.
So next time you feel the anger and frustration boiling up inside because “that dog ain’t doing as he is told” take measure to control your feelings before you act.
A good way of doing this is simply by putting your hand on the top of your head and watch yourself cooling off.
Remember: Emotions shape behavior and if we, as dog parents, allow our “negative” emotions to shape our actions towards our dogs we may sooner or later create trouble for both of us.
An untrainable dog is only untrainable because we have not yet found the right way to train or re- train him. Training ourselves first is the best way to remedy our misbehaving dog’s behavior.
EFT is one of the best ways to accomplish this!