Does your dog respect you? Have you earned their respect? I don't freely give away my respect to anyone until they earn it. The same goes for dogs. Working with them as much as I do, I want them to respect my leadership and I have to prove to them I am worthy of that respect. Calm attitude goes much farther than frustration and dogs deal with each other that same way. If my dog is giving me a response to a situation that I don't want then that tells me what I need to do, not what the dog needs to do. That means I have to make sure they understand what is expected of them. It would be unfair of me to expect something from my dog that I haven't taught them. Being firm of purpose is one of the most important aspects about the owner's training attitude and training doesn't ever stop. It continues ever minute of every hour of every day you are with your dog.

When you are giving your dog something that they want, make sure you think about what you are re-enforcing at that moment. Excited behavior gets them food, treats, affection? That is what they will give you. Wait to give them something they want until they are calm. This teaches them exactly what you want and they will respect you for your steadfast, calm attitude. Showing these wonderful animals what is in their best interest and re-enforcing it all the time will create a calm, mature dog.

Teaching your companion to relax is also another overlooked activity. There comes a certain time of night that it is time to relax from the day. I have heard very few trainers talk about teaching this but it is a very important aspect of living with dogs. I am not always wanting them to entertain me and they don't need to. Living in that state of mind can be detrimental to our relationship since there are moments that I want to relax in a quiet environment. This also lets our dogs have their moments of down time. This does make it encumbent on us to excercise our dogs to release their pent up energy.

Greg Hollen
Indiana Working Dogs