People often ask me if it’s o.k. for their dogs to be doing certain things, such as getting up on the furniture or playing tug with their toys. The answer is – it’s up to you and what you want from your dogs. While I believe there are some behaviors that dogs should never engage in, such as guarding objects or chasing cars, I have no problem with many of the behaviors people think might not be o.k. Let’s take sleeping on the owners bed for example. I have no problem with dogs sleeping on the bed as long as the dogs are not exhibiting behavior problems. My own dogs are allowed on the bed, but must ask for permission first by sitting and waiting to be invited up.

It’s called criteria and ones person’s criteria for their dog may not be another’s, or mine for that matter. My job, as a dog trainer, is to help you achieve your goals with your dog, not tell you which behaviors the dog should or should not know. Over the years I have been to people’s houses where the dogs are allowed to do pretty much whatever they wish as long as they didn’t go to the bathroom in the house. So if the dog is standing in the middle of the dining room table, and the owners are fine with that, I have to be fine with it too, (although I wouldn’t allow my dogs to do that) and concentrate on the goals/criteria the owners have set for that dog. Don’t get me wrong, if I see a dog with a serious behavior problem, I will tell the owners what I see and what might be done to correct it. However, for the purposes of this writing, I’m talking about your average dog and owner in your average training session.

I talk a lot about criteria when teaching classes. I want people to set their own criteria for the behaviors taught in class. For one thing, I think it makes it easier for the dogs to understand what is being asked of them if the owners have a clear picture of what they (not me) want the final behavior to look like. I also think it relieves some of the pressure on the owners to be able to set their own criteria for their individual dogs, train more solidly on what you think is important and less so with the rest of the behaviors. Let’s say we have two dogs in a class, a German Shepherd and a Shih Tzu. The owner of the German Shepherd is much more likely to be concerned with loose leash walking than the owner of the Shih Tzu. Let’s also say the Shih Tzu’s owner could care less about the dog pulling on leash, but is very concerned that the dog won’t come when called. Different dogs, different owners, different criteria. While I want both dogs to learn loose leash walking and to come when called, my job is to help each owner reach his or her criteria, that is, the Shepherd walks nicely on leash and the Shih Tzu comes when called.

So think about what you want from your dog, then call me and together we can make it happen!!