How I Got Rufus To Finally Obey… Dog Training

It’s unfortunate that dog training is a necessary part of our relationship with our dogs.

If only it could stop at the cuddly-cuteness, we’d all be just fine. But no! They have to disobey, and tear things up, and pee in corners, and whine, bark, even sometimes bite.

What the heck are we supposed to do?

Luckily, dogs are a lot like people. And by that, I mean they don’t ever really change, but sometimes, just sometimes, they learn a thing or two. You can teach your dog to behave in a way that you like.

Like our dog Rufus.

Rufus was always such a great dog growing up. I never had to tell him no. He just listened to me. When we walked, I could let him off leash and even if there were other dogs around, ducks, squirrels, anything – he’d never leave my side. I’d throw the ball, he’d grab it and come back. I’d call him, and he’d come. On top of being extremely sweet, loving, and gentle, he was the perfect companion.

As Rufus got older, he gained a bit of stubbornness with his age. He enjoyed wandering off on his own more than coming to my call. Suddenly, it dawned on me that Rufus never had to learn the word “no”. He always naturally followed my call, so I never had to tell him no (which is a good thing, because I don’t know if I’d have the heart to tell him “no”).

One night, I ate a snack in my bedroom and placed the plate on my night stand. Rufus stood by the night stand, and let out a loud, deep bark. Then he let out another. He was demanding that I give him the plate! I weakly told him, “No, Rufus!” and he responded with another bark.

Finally, enough was enough. Finally, I was going to teach him the word “no”.

“No!” Rufus I shouted, and stood up, standing to the very tip of my posture. I looked him square in the eyes; both of my feet were planted in the ground; and then, staring, I waited. Rufus started wagging his tail. Then he turned and backed out of my room, and laid down on the floor just outside my door.

This is how I taught him the word “no”. Since then, he’s gotten a lot better about it.

Believe it or not, dogs learn much the same way that humans do: positive and negative reinforcement. And just like humans, dogs love boundaries. In fact, giving your dog some solid boundaries can enhance your relationship, and build mutual respect between the two of you.

Does it seem strange that I’m using words like “mutual respect” while talking about dogs?

Well, dogs, like humans, know who to respect and when. For instance, when someone walks into a room, and their posture, their tone of voice, even their clothes demand respect – we talk to them in a respectful way. Like if Shaq walked into the room, you’d probably emphatically say, “Hey Shaq! So good to meet you! You’re such a great player” and so on and so forth.

That’s because we’re trained to respect celebrities and sports stars.

Now, a great way to train your dog is with “pattern breaking”.

Like people, dogs develop behavioral patterns. For instance, if every time you start cooking food your dog goes crazy, barking, whining, etc., then that is a pattern he or she has developed.

Here’s how you break that pattern:

Do something completely unexpected to your dog when they get into one of their negative patterns. For instance, you could make a loud noise by banging something, or spray him or her in the face with water. The key is to not show your frustration though, because then they’ve won! They got a reaction out of you, and that reaction reinforces their pattern. However if very indifferently, very calmly, you spray them once in the face with water, say “no” sternly but not angrily, and ignore them, that throws a major change into what they’re used to.

Do this enough times and the pattern is completely broken.

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