Why We don’t Need to CONTROL our Dogs

By Beverley Courtney

dog looking at owner in a harness

Really? No control?? I thought we had to control our dogs?

You’re right, of course! We want plenty of control, but we want our dog to be doing the controlling.

Think how we bring up our children. We teach and show them first, rather than yell at them for breaking rules they didn’t know existed!

Take toothbrushing, for example. First, we clean our toddler’s teeth for them. As soon as they’re capable, they start doing it themselves … after a fashion … so by the time their permanent teeth arrive, they’ve gotten into the habit. Then we switch to reminding them: “Did you do your teeth?” Eventually, they understand why they need to do it and we no longer need to even ask them (though they may need to be 24 before they reach this happy state!). 

Same with our dogs. There’s no need to nagnagnag them all the time, yank on their lead, snap at them, bark commands, or push them into a sit or a lie down. This kind of carry-on simply destroys the relationship you could have with your dog, who just knows that whatever he does is wrong and waits for the inevitable correction and telling-off. And he probably has no idea why.

Switch this round though. TEACH your dog what it is you want, in a kind and loving way – just like your toddler and his toothbrush. Yes, it will take a little time and patience. There’ll be misunderstandings and mistakes, like the toothpaste all over the basin and the pajamas but you’ll get there, together. Accompany your teaching with plentiful little tasty treats and you’ll quickly have your dog’s attention and willingness.

Once you’ve taught your dog what it is you like, there is never again any need to tell him off! 

No “Noooooooos,” no “Ah-ahs”. Just “Would you like to walk here beside me?” and from him, “Sure, especially if there’s a piece of hot dog going begging…”

Don’t believe me? Well, you’re just going to have to suspend your disbelief, and hear me when I say that I don’t say NO to my dogs. I don’t say Ah-ah. I don’t try to guilt them into working for me.

I may say, “Really?” or “Where do you think you should be?”

I’m sad when a puppy-owner proudly says to me, “She knows the meaning of NO.” 

“That’s a shame,” I may answer, “My dogs don’t know the meaning of NO because I don’t say it.”

And for a moment – let’s just look at what your dog does understand as “the meaning of NO”. It will mean that her owner has suddenly (and unaccountably) got cross with them. They’re shouting, possibly even manhandling them. And your puppy has NO IDEA what has happened to cause this. As a result, the puppy may stop whatever he was doing, slink away, flatten himself to the floor, perhaps come to lick you to appease you … But he does not understand what you think he understands when you say NO.

So you may now banish “no” from your interactions with your dog. Treat your companion as you would your family or friends. Life becomes instantly less stressful, and you’ll actually get the control you want!

We don’t need to control our dogs
We need to teach our dogs to control themselves!

woman with her 2 dogs

Authored By: Beverley Courtney
You can find Beverley Courtney at www.brilliantfamilydog.com. Specialising in puppies and Growly Dogs (reactive, aggressive, anxious, dogs), she is passionate about changing the way people interact with their pets. Beverley has written 9 dog-friendly how-to books and has online programs for teaching and coaching you to fast transformations in your life with your dog.

 

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