Effective discipline and coaching
My wife brought an article to my attention that was related to discipline and children. At the time of this writing, we have 4 children ranging from 2 years to 18. I sat down and read the article; it was by Dr Walt Larimore on knowing whether or not the discipline you are using on your children is really working. It turns out it was an excerpt from his book called " ." Dr. Larimore is a physician and his article, I realized, was in line with my system for training humans and their dogs. The Falco K9 Academy system of "Training your Dog with Love and Respect"... the following two paragraphs (in italics) are directly from his article. And then the following content after that has some similarities but I have changed it to reflect appropriately to the training of dogs and their humans. As many of you who know me, I often compare the training of dogs to that of raising and teaching children. It is amazing sometimes how closely related they are. Especially when it comes to the toddler phase of childhood.
Discipline comes from the root word "disciple" which means, "to teach or coach." It also means to teach appropriate and biblical thinking and behavior. And to punish means "to correct" or "to chastise."
Have you set CLEAR boundaries in your home?
Dogs must know what is and is not unacceptable. What the rules of the house are ALL of the time and no matter who is home or who is present. When used effectively, punishment always supports discipline. Inappropriate punishment, however, can cause confusion for the dog and results in little or no discipline.
Are my demands reasonable? Do we need to start smaller with less distraction?
In other words, if your dog has a problem with cats, you must first teach the recall with the presence of the cat and work up to having the cat being present. You can't teach the recall with the cat inches away from his face to start.
Are the rules and consequences appropriate for the dog’s age?
Pushing a young dog (puppy) too hard and too fast can have detrimental consequences. You can create social and environmental issues that would have otherwise not been an issue.
A dog must KNOW HOW to be successful in order to be successful. So punishment for a dog that is still confused about how to be successful is inappropriate. It is literally unfair. So in the beginning make sure the dog is clear in this area.
Know the difference between defiance (disobedience) and inattentiveness or "accidental behavior". What is the INTENTION of the dog? This is the question.
Be carful not make excuses for your dog either with this issue. An example of an accident is if the dog is running and accidentally knocks over the trash can and makes a mess. It is inappropriate to punish the dog. Or, if you are not paying attention and you trip over the dog. It may not be the dog’s fault.
But conversely, if you see the dog smelling the air around a trashcan and then rears up on their hind legs, to put his paws on the can to knock it over, a well-timed verbal correction is appropriate. Or if the dog is crowding you on your walk and causing you to stumble, then it is appropriate to correct the dog for crowding you and causing you to trip.
Do I use the appropriate correction for the situation? In other words… does the punishment fit the crime?
Is just a stern and well timed "NO" appropriate or a physical correction. There is a big difference between sitting too slow and running into the street after a skateboarding child. The difference in your correction choices should be worlds apart.
Is the punishment a punishment? In other words, the punishment/correction must be undesirable not pleasurable or a reward.
Sometimes "throwing the dog outside" may be exactly what he wants and is fact a reward. Example of a child who loves to read and when punished is told to go to their room... where the books are, is not a punishment at all. A more appropriate punishment is to take the books away. I used to love to be told, "Go to your room and think about it". That's where all my Mad Magazines were!
Do I reassure the dog? And do I show the dog HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
When you see your dog struggling and unable to find a solution, you must be there to show them how to be successful. And even when you have to show them, reassure them that it is okay and they CAN be successful. You may need to do this a few times before they figure out what it is you really want. And you may have to slowly reduce the amount of help they get and maybe even simply just guide them until they are able to do it themselves.
Do I keep my cool while carrying out a correction or punishment?
There is no faster way to loose a dogs respect than to loose your temper and over punish. Respect is a fragile thing... especially in the beginning. Take great care to keep the "fun" in the training with your dog. Especially when it becomes frustrating for both you and the dog. In some cases it may just be better to end the training for the time being until cooler heads prevail.