Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to 10 minutes. We spent 10 minutes gawking at a Moose. We spent 1o minutes meeting a dog who had just bitten an employee. We spent 10 minutes sorting and putting on laundry. Yet, 10 more minutes with your Dog can lead to amazing things.
For example, I can spend 10 minutes writing one of the most powerful tips that will fundamentally shift your relationship with your dog. Interested?
First, some background. I was recently asked about how to stop a cute little puppy from running away with family member's pants. Then, I was also asked how to stop a dog from bugging his elderly cat sibling when the sibling was resting. And on another call I was asked how to stop a dog from barking at the neighbors. All of these problems had slightly different solutions, some were short, some were long. But all started from the same place, a neat little trick I call the power of "AND."
In the few minutes it takes to read and absorb this trick, and the a few moments to think about it and practice it - the power of 10 minutes to shift your relationship with your dog will become clear.
Second, it is important to realize that dogs who know they can make you happy are mentally healthier than dogs that are regularly confused, or believe you are very rarely happy with them. So if you don't praise your dog on a steady basis for coming when called, sitting when asked, or simply lying down under your desk quietly when working, they likely don't know they make you happy.
If you need to find things to praise your dog for, think about what you do like. I hear, "I like it when my dog curls up on his bed, when I am reading," or "I like it when my dog comes to me when I call his name." A quiet, calm, "good settle" with a smile on your face, when a dog finds his place under your desk can be the start of letting your dog know you like when he is there. A scratch on the neck every time your dog comes when called, shows your dog he is making your happy.
Third, saying 'No!' to your dog digging up your garden, or jumping on the counters is not a powerful choice to curb your dog's behaviour. It says I am unhappy with you with no instructions on how the dog can make you happy. There is no alternative path given to the dog except to stop what he is doing and let's face it, taking his paws off the table doesn't make you happy. You didn't want him to do it in the first place.
The Trick is found in the power of "AND." Next time a "No!" comes flying out of your mouth as your pants are dragged up the hallway by your playful pup try the power of "AND." Here's how to do it. Any behaviour you want to stop, say "No AND...." ask them to do something that makes you happy. In the pant-pulling puppy case, it would be "No AND look here is a teething rope, please take it away and chew it, that would make me happy." For a dog who is bugging the elderly cat, it is "No AND would you sit. Oh what a good boy, that makes me happy." For a dog barking at a neighbour, it is "No AND can you lie down for me. Wonderful. Thank you that makes me happy," and so on.
The power of AND is a 10 Minute lesson that will deepen the power of your relationship with your dog. A happy dog is a dog who knows that they can make you smile.
We will be having a clinic on the Power of "AND" at the Muskoka Dog Social Club which is only 10-minutes from Hwy. 11 - you could have been here by now. The social club has wide-open, secured park-like settings made for dogs, with lovely outdoor seating, and an indoor activity centre for inclement weather. It's for Dogs and their People and boasts great evenings under the stars, and only 10 minutes from home.
'Sparky' Smith is a Canine Behaviorist and Practioner, educated through the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour, earning her ISCP.DIP.CANINE.PRAC.