There are many challenges in the life of a dog owner. When you are a pet parent, you will face challenges daily. What you do with these challenges can make a difference between your dog having a happy and high-quality life, or low-quality life.
Today, we will talk about some behavior problems you can solve when you think like a computer. Yes, I know I know, computers and AI will take over the world.
But bear with me and read on.
Common Challenges and Mistakes
First, let’s talk about some of the biggest challenges dog owners face. Nowadays, according to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 39% of American households own at least one dog. But becoming a dog owner is a huge responsibility. Dogs are not some toys you can forget. You need to train your puppy proper manners.
Some of the biggest challenges and mistakes are the following:
- Remaining positive when your dog is reacting
- Being consistent with dog training
- Control exposure to stimuli
- Recognizing common issues
Simply said, you need to remain positive and practice positive reinforcement even when your dog is reacting. What can you do in such a situation? Well, try to calm your puppy and then make positive associations with the stimuli. You change your dog’s behavior by eliminating bad habits and installing positive ones.
Speaking about consistency, you cannot train your dog every once a week. You cannot train your puppy haphazardly. You should always incorporate small training tasks into the daily routine.
As for stimuli and exposure, try to learn the stimulus blocking technique.
What can you learn from computers?
Now, let’s talk about the title and what I mean when I say use computer skills when you train your puppy. Ask yourself, what do computers do?
They perform the same task over and over again. Consistency, that is the key to successful dog training. You should be consistent when you try to teach your dog something. And if you do not live alone, your whole household and family should be consistent. You cannot be the one rewarding calm behavior, and then another member praises the dog when he is excited to greet people at the door.
Now, because we cannot emulate computers, what can we do? We cannot be consistent all the time. We might be consistent for several minutes, but we cannot be all the time.
The trick here is to formalize your inconsistency. And this is something we can do better than computers.
After all, we have analog feedback. Say good dog, gooooood dog, great dog. In one word, we can tell the dog what he got right and how right he got it. Voice training is such an integral part of obedience training and positive reinforcement training.
With one word we can also tell the puppy how wrong he did something. Instructive verbal feedback when he goes off track so that your puppy goes back on track. Repeat the command if needed.
If you have ever been to dance lessons or any other lessons, you know it. How many times the instructor has repeated something to you? Well, do the same with your puppy.
While we cannot be consistent in our commands all the time, we can give consistent feedback. And that is something you should try and do with your puppy.
You should never ask your dog if he did something. The right question is what your dog did and what you want him to do. That is the way to train your puppy to have a happy life.
For example, your dog jumps when people come at the door. He is not doing anything wrong. At least not in his eyes. Teach him what you want him to do when people come. Do you want him to sit? Well, teach him that.
How to be consistent with your command?
Let’s talk about an example. How to be consistent with your recall command? This is something many dog owners struggle with.
Dogs learn when they are rewarded for making their own choice. So, when your dog comes, he makes a decision to come because it is the best decision. How to make his decision the best one? Well, reward him always when he comes back to you.
Now, after a while, you should reward only great recall, not average ones. But the mistake many owners make is they call their puppy when they are in the middle of something just for the sake of calling your puppy. Do not do it. Do not call your puppy every 30 seconds. Let him have some free time roaming. And then, when you need to call your puppy, reward him if he comes back lighting fast.