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"Keeping a daily structure is so difficult!"

A lot of people look confused when l tell them to implement structures in their life. They think it is very odd that they should put the dog in commands all the time. (Who does that?) They can not comprehend why they should not give their dog excessive affection (isn’t that why we have dogs?) And they cannot imagine how to tire out their dogs if they do not go to dog parks (l need to let my dog play to tire him out or else he won’t sleep!) When l told them not to let other people or dogs touch their dogs, they thought l was insane (l need to do that or else my dog will become aggressive!) These are the same people whose dogs are very reactive to skateboards, bikes, children, dogs, cats, strangers, loud noises, and what not. Actually, these people really love their dogs. I am not saying they are bad owners. They are not. They usually invest lots of money on food, health care, and spend lots of time with their dogs daily.

Unfortunately, they just don’t know how to live with their dogs properly. How you live with your dog will seriously affect how your dog behaves. If your dog is very insecure, anxious, reactive, or aggressive, there is something out of balance. Changing how you live with your dog can help to restore this balance. What does putting a dog in constant command look like? What does teaching a dog to earn his reward look like? What does engagement look like? What does a fulfilled and content dog look like? Is that something that only exists in fairy tales? Is that something only professional dog trainers can do? Actually, this cannot be further from the truth. These dogs are not that rare. They are quite common. You have seen them. May be you pass by them everyday. You just never pay much attention because they are so well behaved they look invisible. I am talking about the dogs who live with their owners on the street. These dogs do not keep barking at everyone, they don’t go nuts whenever they see another dog, they don’t get spooked by skateboards, bikes, loud noises, or fast moving vehicles. These dogs will follow their owners without any fancy equipment or treats. These dogs can stay very calm in a down on the side of a very busy street next to their owners while completely ignore all the crazy distractions in their surroundings. The owner does not need to keep telling the dog “stay stay..” or “no!”. These dogs just know what to do. These dogs live in very distracting environment (e.g. on the streets in downtown) but they are very good at ignoring distractions. These dogs could be staying next to their owners by a busy road but they won’t suddenly run across the busy street because they see someone holding a hot dog on the other side. They wait on their human for guidance. They look to their human for permission. They are very engaged. Their owners are the most relevant to them. These dogs don’t go to day care or dog park. These dogs don’t go to puppy classes. Their owners don’t “socialize” their dogs that way. They don’t try to “tired out” their dogs that way. Their owners don’t ask a million people to touch their dogs. As a matter of fact, most people stay away from them and their dogs. But these are very well socialized dogs. They dont react to things most dogs do. They are usually experts in ignoring all sorts of distractions. They are usually experts in chilling among lots of distractions. If you look at the owners, they don’t spend all their time talking to the dog in baby voices, they don’t coddle their dogs excessively. They are usually busy doing something else (playing music, looking for food, talking to people, ...) and their dogs are completely content not being the center of attention. They treat their dogs as a dog, a canine companion. They work together as a team. They are closely bonded on a very instinctive level. They are one with their dogs — everything looks so natural and smooth that most people don’t even realize how amazing it really is. If you think no one puts their dogs in command all the time, look at them. They are always working their dogs (I.e. the dog follows the owner without pulling or reacting as the owner moves from A to B, the dog stays in a down quietly as the owner tries to make some money playing his music on the street, the dog stays out of everyone’s way as the owner talks to someone...), and the result speaks volume!

Look at how they live with their dogs. That is what “putting the dog in constant command” looks like. That is what a structured life looks like. That is what “do not let other people or dog greet your dog” looks like. That is what “no excessive unearned affection” looks like. That is what full life inclusion looks like. That is what a very well socialized and well behaved dog looks like. That is what a balanced canine-human relationship looks like. That is what an invisible dog looks like. That is what being one with your dog looks like. And you know what, it does not matter where you live. If you are willing to change how you live with your dog, you can be one with your dog and this is what your dog can look like, too.

Photo Credit: BBC News

Reactive dog board and train dog training with Vancouver dog trainer behaviourist Richard Chan

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