Have you ever wondered “what’s my dog’s why?” Most likely you haven’t. I mean you’re more likely to ask: “why does my dog bark at people?”
The thing is, the more important questions are actually: “why did my dog choose to bark at that person? What was it about them that made my dog bark? What kind of bark is it? Threatening? Scared? Territorial? Playful?”
Drilling down is the first step in discovering your dog’s why. And Google can’t answer you, because Google doesn’t know your dog. But, let’s look at why knowing your dog’s why is so important!
OK, so let’s imagine that you would like to compete with your dog in Obedience. But your dog is nervous of the other dogs at training, and can’t concentrate on the task at hand. All you see is that your dog is constantly sniffing. But your dog is not sniffing the grass because the grass is interesting. Knowing your dog’s why means that you’ll realise that your dog is sniffing because she is nervous. That other dogs make her feel so stressed that she cannot cope.
If you continue to put your dog in that situation you will make the situation worse. Your dog will continue to feel stressed. And your progress will be non existent. If you don’t change what you’re doing your dog's behaviour cannot improve. Unless you start working with your dog your dog will likely become aggressive. I know this, because this is exactly what happened with my German Shepherd, Kaz. So I had to adjust the way I trained her according to her why. To suit her. Once I did that she made rapid progress and started to shine.
Your dog may have everything it takes to be the next obedience champion. If only you would recognise her why and adjust your training to suit your dog. Not understanding a dog’s why is the number 1 reason many teams fail to leave the back yard. If you just about have a panic attack at the thought of taking your dog out of your front door because of what might happen, I'm talking to you.
And I'm not telling you this to lecture to you. I'm telling you this because I've been where you are. I know what you're going through. And I have since learned the value of this and used it to help many, many, many, many dogs succeed at life beyond the back yard!
The possibilities of what you can achieve is endless. Because you will be a team. One that works together. Rather than (what you usually see) the owner with a goal, regardless of how the dog feels. Learning to work with your dog has immense power. Your dog will feel understood, and will try harder for you. You will see better behaviour from your dog! This will mean that both you and your dog will enjoy your lives more, together! Win-win!
But it requires you to “listen” to your dog. It is true, your dog can’t speak to you. But, you can pay attention to body language and learn to "see" your dog and "hear" what they're trying to say. When does your dog sigh? How does your dog carry their tail when they’re happy? When they’re unsure? When they’re scared? What makes your dog get up in the morning? Not every dog who carries their tail between their legs is scared.
Every dog is different. For example, I struggled to teach Delta new skills. I knew she wasn’t stupid, but she didn’t seem to be the smartest cookie in the box. Until one day, I discovered almost by accident how to teach her new skills. She wasn’t stupid after all! She had a different learning style to Kaz!
You see, you’re not the only person in the team. You can’t have a team if you’re not working together. And, as the thinking party (I know, I say this a lot), you’re the one who can change. And yes, you will need to change with every dog. Just like no two people are the same, no two dogs are the same.
I promise you, that this is going to make your life better with your dog!
Dogs have reasons for doing, or not doing things. They have likes and dislikes, some of which make no sense to us what-so-ever! But that doesn’t matter. To become an unstopable team with your dog, you should think “What’s My Dog’s Why?” Thinking about how to best help your partner requires you to have an inside knowledge of your best mate. Your dog is watching you and knows you better than you know yourself.
Without knowing the “why” you might make your dog’s behaviour problems worse or you may even make them afraid of you. They may not even understand what you want! Of course, you want your dog to want to work with you, and not against you. But you’re your dog’s coach, motivator and educator. It’s up to you to help your dog. It’s not up to your dog to help you.
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