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Quit Being Nice...

By Grant Published: August 31, 2009

This weekend a good friend had a salesman in her home. He refused to leave when asked nicely. While things turned out okay for her, it did shake her a bit. I'm constantly telling women to "Quit being nice!" I'm not saying to be mean! I'm saying that in a given situation, you need to insure your safety. And in this case, possibly insure the safety of others in the future!

I could go on about safety for women, but this is a dog-blog. So what's the point? Well; Quit being nice!

First admit that you know there is a difference  between being "nice", being "mean", and being "neutral" (and all the other shades in there too!).

Many owners we work with think they can either be mean to the dog, or be nice. So what do we end up with?

1) We end up with owners that are nice to the dog. "Oh, I couldn't hurt Sassy!" Who said anything about hurting the dog? They get the dog a treat when the dog wants it. They cater to the dog’s every whim, and then are surprised that the dog acts like she owns the place. Hmmm...
 -or-
2) We have people that think they have to be mean to get a dog to listen. So they growl at the dog, keep a rolled up newspaper handy, constantly yell at the dog, then wonder why Spike cowers in the corner and gets snappy when someone reaches for him. Hmmm...


How about being neutral? A Calm, Assertive approach is what we teach our clients. Why? Because dogs 'get' rules, boundaries and limitations. They get discipline. Notice I didn't say punishment, they get discipline! "No" means "no".

I'm always sad when we work with a client and dog to correct behaviors that the owner has allowed to occur. We leave and everyone is happy. The dog is more obedient, the owners are more relaxed. Then comes the slip. Today, they didn't make Zeke get off the couch and by the end of the week, their lack of reinforcing discipline is allowing him to get up on the counter, and somehow it's the dog's fault. So they get mad and punish the dog. When all the dog needed was consistent reinforcement of the rules.

I am constantly amazed at what my dogs pick up on their own. They just need help in understanding what we want. Wait for your dog to THINK. Give the dog TIME.

NICE: Stop being nice; require your dog to behave and follow the rules. I often teasingly ask a client I am meeting for the first time, "If I started jumping on you and licking your face, how long would it be before you kicked me out of your home?" Homeowner: "Not very long!" Me: "Then why is it acceptable behavior for your dog?"

MEAN: Why do you HAVE a dog? If you are so without skills that the only way you can relate to an animal is to punish, beat, hit, maybe you should get some fish? About being mean, I always ask clients, "Do you speak (insert some unlikely foreign language here) Latin? No? Well, what if we landed you 600 years ago in the middle of some European city. Some guy runs up to you and starts shouting at you in Latin. After a moment of your obvious confusion, he yells LOUDER (if you ever travel abroad, remember that volume does NOT improve translation), then after you don't take off your glasses, he hits you with a rolled up newspaper." Make any sense?

Of course not. So don't expect your dog to know any different. Quit being Nice. Quit being Mean. Start being a calm, ASSERTIVE pack leader. Your dog WILL respond!

___________

Grant Holmes is Dog Obedience Professional and the owner of Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience & People Training. He loves working one on one with your dog in your home working on the goals you've set for obedience & behavior! Any dog, any size, any challenge.

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