We expect them to live in our human world without ever acting like dogs. We expect them to be able to go anywhere and everywhere and have impeccable manners. We expect them to welcome attention from anyone who desires to approach and touch them. And, we expect them to get along with every dog they encounter. Dogs that don’t live up to these unrealistic expectations are deemed “anti-social”, “ill-mannered” or “aggressive”.

Let’s take a minute and “be the dog”:

Do you like to eat your meals uninterrupted? So does your dog. How would you feel if someone regularly, or even occasionally, put their hands in your dinner? What about if while you were enjoying that bowl of ice cream someone kept taking it away and giving it back? Want your dog to love it when you go near his food dish? Try walking past and dropping a piece of chicken in the bowl.

Do you like every other person you meet? Neither does your dog. While there are a lot of dogs in the world that have never met a stranger, the vast majority of dogs don’t like being touched by strangers any more than we do. The same thing goes for other dogs. Most dogs just want to spend time with their people or their chosen circle of doggie buddies.

Dogs are not robots. Just like us, dogs have free will and can weigh their options when it comes to deciding what to do. No matter how well trained a dog is, he’ll never be 100% reliable. Having a dog that stays with you off leash in a public place takes a lot of training and relationship building. And, even then, you take your chances that the dog won’t choose something irresistible over you!

Puppies are babies. Babies of all species need time to grow and develop. Puppies, like human children, have developmental stages that they go through and each stage will have different cognitive abilities. You can’t rush children to grow up any faster than they are physically and mentally capable of. Have patience with your puppy and allow time for learning things like potty training and basic manners.

Dogs are not a verbal species. They rely on body language to communicate. So when training your dog, teach him the behavior first then add in the word that describes it. Chanting “sit, sit, sit”, at your dog will not help them understand what a sit is. Instead, teach the sit first without words them simply name it once the dog understands.

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