The Importance of Good Foundation Behaviors

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Can you read your dog’s mind? Can your dog read yours? No. Reading minds is not possible.

Today I’m reminded of that as I try to be a good nurse to my husband who just had knee replacement.  He’s in pain and he can’t do anything for himself.  He’s also not the type of person who likes to ask for help.  He doesn’t know how, because normally, he’s extremely independent.

Dogs don’t know how to ask for help or for direction.

Just as there’s a big difference between “I CAN’T REACH MY PILLS!!” said with anger and “Would you mind reaching my pills for me and giving them to me please?”, there’s also a big difference between yelling at a dog “DON’T JUMP!” versus asking for “Sit please”.

So many dogs hear “DON’T JUMP!”, but haven’t been taught a skill such as “Sit” or “Go to Mat”.

It’s unfair to yell at or punish our dogs if we haven’t done a good job of teaching them behaviors that we can ask for, and then asking for those behaviors.

Be a fair guardian to your dog. Teach them strong foundation behaviors and ask for those behaviors with intent to reward them. 

Remember how it feels to be yelled at when you didn’t know any better. 

When you were learning the alphabet, did your teacher yell at you if you missed a letter? No, they repeated the alphabet song until you knew it by heart.

Repeat and reinforce a few basic behaviors that you can ask for in any context or any situation, and think thrice before yelling at your dog.  Did he know what you wanted?

Build and maintain a strong foundation.

Basic Obedience classes aren’t just for newbies. They’re important for reinforcing and refining your foundation behaviors so you have a strong arsenal of skills to use when you’re in a situation where you need to offer direction to your dog.