While on Facebook the other day I came across the image that you see. It’s an image with a simple little saying, yet I found it to be profound.
What you allow is what will continue. I feel that if dog owners understood this simple little principle it would be a game changer in so many people’s lives.
Let me give you an example. I often hear dog owners say things like:
“I don’t know why my dog keeps insisting on tearing up the flower bed.”
“I can’t figure out WHY my dog keeps going to the bathroom in the house.”
“I’m so tired of my dog not listening to me when I tell him to come/sit/lie down/stay/etc.”
Do you notice an underlying tone or theme in these types of statements? Have you made comments like these in your dog training efforts?
The underlying theme that I see is that most people are blaming their dogs for these behaviors. The DOG won’t stop, the DOG won’t learn, the DOG won’t listen, etc.
What they almost always fail to recognize is that their dog is simply an animal and, without their help, has no concept of right and wrong. What that means is that if bad behaviors are continuing it is ONLY because the owners are ALLOWING them to continue.
While I have heard people ask about their dog’s behavior problems with the correct mindset it is not often. With my clients I’m always trying to help them see things in terms of ‘what do I need to change so that my dog can understand this?’
The types of questions or complaints about dog behavior that I’d like to hear are:
“My dog keeps tearing up the flower bed. What haven’t I provided for him or what haven’t I communicated to him that makes him believe this is still acceptable behavior?”
“My dog keeps going to the bathroom in the house. What are the steps I HAVE NOT taken to ensure this won’t keep happening?”
“My dog is not listening to my commands. What dog training principles am I not employing in my dog’s education to help him understand what I want”
If you can approach your dog problems with that type of mindset you’ll be much more successful in your efforts.
Dog Training- Passive vs Overt Training Techniques
Like it or not, if your dog is the dog who is tearing up your garden, jumping on your guests, peeing in the house, and not listening to you, these things are occurring because of you…not in spite of you. These things are occurring because you ALLOW them to occur. More often than not I find the culprit is a lack of education on HOW to go about addressing these issues combined with a lack of determination to work to fix the problems. Regardless, make no mistake, by passive or overt methods you are allowing your dog to do the bad behaviors you don’t like.
Let me give some examples:
Let’s say you’ve got the dog who is peeing in the house and destroying the garden. Well, you don’t have to figure out HOW to fix that, the HOW has already been done. Whether you’re reading your dog training books, working with dog trainers, checking out my dog training blog or the blog of others you can quickly find out that one of the main keys in fixing a problem like this is to supervise your dog.
Now let’s say that you choose to ignore these proven training methods. That is a passive training technique that YOU are consciously choosing to employ. The result is obvious; destruction and messes. But at that point there is no use saying that you can’t figure out why the dog keeps doing these things. YOU decided to employ a passive training technique that is a proven failure.
Let’s look at an overt case:
Let’s say your dog is the dog who doesn’t come when called. Now let’s say that you do what many dog owners do and shout angrily at your dog to come when called and when he finally does come you scold him further.
You aren’t being passive in your training efforts. You are being overt, i.e. actually getting out and working with your dog.
It jus so happens that you are employing overt methods that are proven to not work. So when the time comes for you to complain that your dog does not come when called it is null. You ALLOWED yourself to employ bad methods and therefore have ALLOWED your dog to continue not coming when called.
Any way you slice it, through passive or overt methods you are allowing bad behavior to continue.
Dog Training- The Solution
So what is the solution? As I mentioned before I maintain that the solution is education.
There is no point in complaining that your dog doesn’t listen, doesn’t do this, lamentably does that, etc. Every problem you have had or will have with your dog has already been solved. Now, being a dog training who is good at what I do I always encourage dog owners to invest in my dog training programs. Having said that, I feel that dog owners simply need to educate themselves, whether that is through my training materials or other qualified trainers.
Many dog owners will willingly NOT get education on their dog’s problems and then complain about their dogs all along the way. This doesn’t work. It’s important to always remember that the buck stops with you when it comes to your dog.