Consistency, motivation key in pet training

From Steve Dale’s “Pet World”:

Q: I know Chow Chows can be willful, and our dog is trying to dominate us.

The first hint was the Max would jump on the sofa when we weren’t home. He knows he’s not supposed to be up there, yet we find his hair on the sofa when we arrive home. The other day, I even caught him on the sofa.

I have to repeat over and over what I want him to do. I tried the Cesar (Millan) method, with mixed success.

How can I show my dog who’s boss?


A: You have two major problems to deal with here. The first is your belief that your dog wants to dominate you.

Dogs do have a social structure, but they know people aren’t dogs. I can assure you, Max has no agenda to dominate you.

However, you do need to be clear, consistent, and motivating with him. Here lies your second problem.

I suggest there’s a specific reason Max jumps on the sofa (aside from it being more comfortable than the floor) and generally doesn’t listen to you. It has to do with a lack of clarity, consistency and/or motivation.

Are you sure everyone in the family is consistent about the rules? Perhaps the kids (if you have kids) or another person in the household doesn’t mind Max on the sofa. As a result, Max really doesn’t understand what to do or not do, or he’s taking advantage of the inconsistency.

Sometimes, such behavior is not a matter of obedience or dominance, but simply taking advantage of an opportunity.

To deter Max, consider buying a plastic runner and placing it over the sofa, nubby side up, when you leave the house.

Also, consider a dog training class. This would open a window of communication with your pet. Seek out a fun, upbeat class.

Efforts to dominate dogs through intimidation aren’t nearly as successful as efforts to encourage them through motivation.

Questions? Reach Steve Dale at steve@petworldradio.net or (866) 554-7387; listen to his radio show, “Pet Central,” Saturdays at www.wgnradio.com, or his syndicated radio shows, “Steve Dale’s Pet World” and “The Pet Minute”; or go to www.petworldradio.net.

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