Top Five Toxic Dog Owner Habits
Sometimes we sit down and scratch our heads in wonderment about what is wrong with our dogs. They tune out, do what they want, go out of their way to make us angry…wait a minute! Stop right there! A dog does not go out of their way to make their owners angry. They are highly intelligent animals that learn coping skills just like us to defend themselves from toxic behaviors from us. They also learn how to get what they need/want. Sometimes it is to release anxiety we have put into their lives with our own bad habits.
1) Nagging: No one likes to be nagged, but some of the best intending dog owners have fallen into the trap of thinking they have to “babysit” their dog’s every move. Instead of disciplining or going through a lesson plan they constantly tell the dog things like; “stop it,” “don’t do that,” “quit,” “knock it off,” “sit, Sit, SIT DARN IT!” They think if they micromanage their dog’s every move that somehow the dog will learn to only do what is correct.
Wrong! It is like telling your dog he is too stupid to learn something new. Instead of taking the time to teach a desired behavior and growing them you are actually belittling them. You never teach them a cue or behavior yet expect them to know your desires. Stop nagging and start teaching and that means desired as well as undesired behaviors. A dog will respect you for taking the time to teach them as well as lay down the law and you will be strengthening your bond at the same time.
2) Complaining: Not much different then nagging in that it is a sign of your laziness in teaching your dog. We complain that they are too slow, to difficult, a hard breed, unmotivated or hard headed. I hate to break it to you, but a dog is a reflection of it’s owner. If there is an aspect of your dog that you are complaining about you need to look at it from a training aspect and develop a program for you and your dog.
You may think your dog is harder to train than others, but it may really be that you are going too far too fast in your training. Slow down and break lessons down into easier and easier steps until you both start to click. A lack of motivation may just be a sign of your lack of creativity. You have to work to find what motivates your dog and not settle for what works for another dog. Your dog may not be an Einstein, but that is OK. No one can train their dog faster than that particular dog’s weakest link. Some are fast but slow learning, some are brilliant learners but fearful, some are bold but clumsy. You need to go to where your dog is not where you wish he was and start building him up.
3) Selfishness: You want your dog to do what you want when and how you want it done. You need your dog to make you look good no matter the cost. You must have complete control at all times. Me, me, me. I, I, I. If you hear yourself using those words more than your dog’s name when talking about him, then you could be making your dog a victim of your selfishness. The day you are perfect in every aspect of your life and in everything you do, that is the day you can expect perfection from your dog. They will make mistakes that make you look bad. They will humble you in one quick move. They will also do just about anything you ask if you put their needs ahead of your own. Yes, there are times when you must have control and when you need them to do your bidding without question. But, that comes with time, training and you putting your needs aside and addressing your dog’s needs first.
4) Anger: Has absolutely NO place in your training. If you get angry you need to walk away and do whatever you need to do to cool off. No learning takes place in a hostile environment and a stack of bad behaviors will be developed by your dog to relieve the stress caused them by an angry handler. You must make the decision to eradicate angry from your relationship with your dog. The first step is not allowing angry to control you and then you need to take control of your anger. Everyone will benefit from you and your dog to everyone that comes into contact with you.
5) Keeping Score: Women are the best at this because of their supreme memory, but to forgive is to forget. It really ties in with all the other habits in that you have to remember your dog is no more perfect then you are. A dog is so forgiving it is a shame to the human race when we cannot extend the same courtesy to them. Plus, when you keep score you start looking for your dog to repeat unwanted behavior because “they always do.” Instead you need to focus on the correct behaviors and if you need to keep score, keep score of all the great things your dog does.
The common thread in all these habits really is negativity. Anytime you start getting negative in your speech or actions, take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. Is it possible it isn’t your dog’s fault? Is it possible it is your frustration at not knowing what to do is causing the problem? I think you will find most if not all negativity in you and your dog’s relationship is being caused by you. So instead of acting on that negativity, sit back and think about how to overcome the situation in a way where you and your dog can benefit and have a positive experience. You will start to see changes for the better in all your relationships when you do.