23 Aug 2016

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Going From Harassed to Hopeful 

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By: Bonny King-Taylor, the doggy lama, pet coach


“Hey, thanks for telling me that I’ve been a jerk. I promise I’ll never do that again!”

Said no one ever.

But isn’t it funny how we seem to habitually focus on trying to fix problems, rather than celebrating when things actually do go well?

It’s generally the same with our pets. I’ll bet your dog or cat (and especially bird friends!) do not automatically ‘straighten up’ when you point out their character flaws.

This is the first in a series on How to Create a Peaceful Pooch. The first step is to…

Science tells us that punishment does not work in the long run, and this article in the journal Psychology Today, specifically cites research stating that negative human behaviors like hitting, ‘alpha’ behavior and forceful corrections result in aggressive responses. My personal feeling is, “How could they not?!”

As a behaviorist, my strongest held belief is that there is never anger in leadership. When you focus on fostering the behaviors you actually want, the entire training process becomes more enjoyable for everyone.

Let’s look at how this applies to the issues nearly every pet person deals with at one time or another.

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The Ugly Half Dozen

  • Barking
  • Biting
  • Separation Anxiety
  • On-leash aggression
  • Pulling
  • Resource guarding

If these are the things you don’t want, ask yourself, what is the opposite of that?

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The Blissful Six

  • Quiet
  • Calm
  • Trust
  • Great greetings
  • Loose leash walking
  • Respect

If you want to see some truly happy pets, check out the client gallery at Saving Grace Petcare. No day is complete without cute pet pics, right?

So, how do you flip the switch from ARGH! To Ahh?

Be willing to change your own mind

If the struggle isn’t working, then a change of perspective is the only option. I suggest to my life-coaching clients to habitually use the phrase, “Up until now.” If Grover hasn’t understood what you want from him so far, then it’s imperative that you get some hope. Borrow some of mine!

The fact that the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring were able to become happy, family dogs should be evidence of nearly any dog’s potential for change. If he has pulled like a truck ‘up until now’ it is still possible that he can learn what you really want.

Find Methods and Equipment that Work for You

Every creature has its own personality and preferences. Thinking that all creatures are the same and should be dealt with just like in the old days is an error. By extension, the tools that worked for your previous pets might not necessarily work for your current cutie.

Focus on Fun

Isn’t it true that you tend to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t?

Dogs and cats are even less inclined to struggle with behaviors they don’t like. They have no social reason to comply.

Find a training routine that brings a smile to your face. If you can’t imagine that such a thing exists, drop me a line. I can help.

The Cardinal Rule: Nothing but good should ever come from your hands

Swatting, squirting with a spray bottle, yanking, etc. just makes your dog afraid of your hands. What could go wrong? Everything.

Think to yourself, “How do I want this to feel?” Then find the straightest path between struggle and satisfaction!

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