Dog problems are often equaled by those of the owner. When people have dog problems, they often think it’s the dog and not them causing the problems. But, dog problems can’t exist in an environment not conducive to survival. You’re experiencing dog problems because the environment, in which your dog lives, isn’t conducive to good choice making.
Think about it this way: When your dog is playing with another dog in a wooded area, does he play around the trees, or does he run into a tree every ten steps? Your dog avoids the trees yet, he’s not afraid of playing around them. That’s because your dog knows that as long as he doesn’t run into one of them, he’ll be alright.
When you plant behavioral “trees” in your dog’s environment, he will learn the avoid the trees you have planted and be directed to the paths you have created between the trees. It’s up to you where you plant the supposed trees. You may not want your dog on your sofa so, you decide to offer an unemotional consequence for jumping on the sofa. The consequence is an unemotional leash correction. In effect, you are planting a behavioral tree in your dog’s environment. If every time your dog tries to run through one of the behavioral trees, he bumps his head, he’ll learn very quickly to avoid them.
But, this is where people get hung up: They think that because there is a physical consequence that it must have been administered in a harsh, aggressive way. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Your anger toward him for hitting the tree isn’t really the part of the equation that is gong to teach him not to run into trees. I think the rather sizable pot knot on the top of his head will be his best teacher and his best friend. Because the experience will be added to his data base and he will learn to avoid having the same experience or worse, again. But, if you think that the way to address your dog’s bad behavior is to offer consequence and no reward, you’re wrong. You absolutely must make sure that your dog’s happiness and sense of security improves with his choices. Every time your dog’s choices begin to improve, so should his happiness and sense of security and well being.
The problem is that people think it’s necessary to get emotionally involved with the consequence when in fact it’s absolutely counterproductive. Why get angry? If you accept the fact that your dog adapt to the environment he lives in, then you will be on the way to a better understanding of your dog.
Put simply, you need to make the things you don’t like, unpleasant for your dog and the things you do like, really pleasant to him. After he repeats the action several times, he will begin to notice an environmental pattern emerge. He will notice that the environment is dictating that he gravitates toward the pleasant behavior and move away from the unpleasant behavior.
The trick is in how to create the perfect environment. Many people try to over complicate the process of resolving dog problems, but it doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. If you know how to approach the problem, you can solve many in minutes.