You have more power than you realize. In the case of your dog, you need to mind your own business before you can hope to have a dog that listens…
…because what is your dog listening to anyway?
The state of your mind affects how you feel and your dog picks up on that feeling. Your body language and chemistry are totally different when you are stressed or sad or excited or joyful. The changes can be subtle.
But your dog doesn’t necessarily know WHY you are feeling that way. They guess based on past experience and their own feeling and reactions.
That lack of clarity can cause your dog to become excited, happy, confused, concerned, fearful, anxious or a host of other emotions. How your dog reads a situation can affect whether or not they can listen to what you are saying or listen appropriately. They may become completely distracted by their own emotions in reaction to yours.
Think about how you can tell as soon as you walk into a room, whether or not you are welcome. Likewise. your dog can tell how you feel.
Visit this thought in your mind for a minute… close your eyes and imagine you are late walking into a conference room and everyone is looking at you! Those in the conference room may be annoyed because you are late or thrilled to see you because they were worried about you. Can you tell? Do you feel welcome? You can usually sense the energy in the room instantly. Can how you feel affect what gets accomplished at the meeting?
Now, imagine you are a substitute teacher walking into a math class with a group of rowdy teenage kids on a beautiful Spring day. What’s the mood of that room? What if they look at you like fresh meat?! LOL Or what if they don’t look at you… at all? How do you feel? What is the energy in that room and can you follow through on your plans for the day?
You don’t necessarily pick up on every eye squint, posture change or smirk but overall, you have a sense of the energy and it can affect you.
Your dog senses your energy and mood in the same way. Maybe even more so. The longer you live with your dog, the more in sync you can get and your dog learns when to be more cautious or sometimes when to “ignore” your mood. Just make no mistake… your dog feeds off of your energy and bad energy makes it harder to focus, listen and learn.
Watch the video above and then try this exercise:
Think about something that annoys you or upsets you, like the upcoming election or some one you are struggling with at work and then train your dog a simple skill. Watch their body language and be aware of yourself too.
Then later, try it again, only this time, first think about things you love or are looking forward to like a vacation or your favorite meal or even put on an upbeat song that you just love and makes you want to smile… and then train your dog the same skill in the same place in the same way.
Do you see a difference in yourself? In your dog?
Watch the video and let me know how the exercise goes for youin the comments below.
Four years ago in November, I was sitting with a huge phone book size catalog on my lap in a folding chair. It was a hot, dusty day at the large State Fair arena in Tennessee watching the Australian Shepherd National Specialty Show.
With dirt on the pages, my pencil scratched as I took notes on breed lines, breeders and rescues, carefully watching the dogs in the ring. In between, I talked to owners.
I knew I wanted a puppy that minute and couldn’t wait to hold one in my arms, snuggle and begin our life together, but I also knew I needed to do my homework… especially since I wanted another Aussie. Loving this breed is my “poison”… haha! I used to say to myself, “WHY!? WHY do you have to love this difficult breed!?”
Still… it was SO hard to wait! Can you relate?
But it is so important that you get the right dog for you and that you are the right person for the dog. You’ll hopefully have many years together so get started out right.
Look on youtube and you’ll find tons of videos showing children and adults opening the huge box with the puppy inside! There are screams and laughter and tears all around and it’s SO EXCITING!!!
…BUT they don’t show you what happens later that day or the next day or the next when the puppy is peeing on things, biting or even growling because it’s become terrified.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t give a puppy as a big gift. You can.
Just do it right so your child, parent or significant other AND the puppy get off to the best start possible and avoid causing any trauma.
First, make sure a dog is really going to be welcome and planned for in your home. Do you know what characteristics are important to you when choosing a dog? Do you have the time and energy that a puppy needs? Do you have experience raising or owning a dog?
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a puppy can make a good idea for a gift…
…IF your loved one would have gotten the puppy anyway…
…AND if you give the puppy in the right way.
So if you think you might go for a puppy as a gift, watch the video below and watch for more videos coming up to help you choose that puppy or dog and for more specifics on what you need to have ready.
Tomorrow feels like Christmas to me. I’ll be on my way to pick up a new puppy! Well, actually now as I finish this post up, it will only be a few hours!
Choosing a puppy is really about choosing a dog that will live with you for about 15 years and be a part of your family. It is much like choosing a friendship, a spouse, a new hire, etc. because the dynamics of the family for the next 15 or so years will be affected. It’s really about doing all you can to find the best fit.
But how? Follow these steps:
Step 1: Determine what you want!
Identify the qualities, characteristics and care that will fit in best with your family. I have very specific characteristics I want that involve structure, working ability and temperament for agility, but also have characteristics that are important to blend in with my family. For example, think about:
The level of affection
Ease of training
Tendency for protection
Tendency for barking
And many others
Step 2: Research with Books and Websites:
Breed books and websites which are a good place to begin. Read about the use, needs and quality of breeds that interest you. Most people think this is enough, but remember, this is for 15 years or so! Don’t stop there! It isn’t enough.
Step 3: Go To Breed Shows:
The next step is to visit a breed show and see the dogs for yourself. At a large AKC show, they often have a “Meet the Breed” event so you can talk to some owners and breeders directly. If not, in addition to watching them compete in the ring, if you are courteous, being careful not to interrupt them at the wrong time, you can also walk around and talk to owners and/or breeders at the show. Typically, they love to talk about their breed and are honest. They want the dogs to succeed too. We all know how many dogs need fostering. It is much more difficult to go through placing a dog than it is to get the right one in the first place. Now are you done researching? No.
Step 4: Talk To Friends:
If you already do a dog sport or have friends with the breed that interests you, ask them about their dog. They can tell you about their line and breeder, possibly providing you with a name. Let them talk and you’ll find out what they like and what they might want to be different next time they choose a dog. If you have narrowed it down to the breed and just a few breeders, go to the next step.
Step 5: Find and Talk To Specific Breeders:
This is the most challenging piece. Each breed line is different depending on the area in the country, the use of the dog line and the breeder themselves. Getting in touch with certain breeders can be difficult but worth the trouble. In addition, they may have high demand for their dogs and you may need to submit a history of your achievements with another dog or a personal recommendation before they will consider you. Sometimes they don’t advertise yet have a long waiting list. I know of one friend who has waited over a year for a cross to take place with the dogs she wants.
These types of breeders are in high demand and aren’t being arrogant in most cases. Instead, they are just deeply care about their dogs and want them to go to a good home. It is practical also, because a good breeder recognizes their commitment to their dogs and does not want to get them back!
Talking To Breeders
Before You Talk To A Breeder
Before you talk to a breeder, decide what you want to do with your dog. Do you want a lap dog or one that will accompany you jogging? Do you need one that will be good with children or in other words, with lots of activity? Are you planning on doing conformation, obedience, freestyle, taking up a sport; even competing with your dog? This goes the first step but after doing the other research, it is best to revisit your list.
Talking To Breeders
Ask about their lines…
When you do talk to them, find out how they describe their line; for example, their temperament or if they are intended to be used as “working lines” or “show lines”? If so, what kind of work or show?
They should be able to tell you not just if their line will fit your needs but also what cross is best for you. In addition, they will be just as picky about you as you are about them.
What Breeders Want To Know
Breeders may ask about your home, such as if you have a fenced yard but good breeders will also ask about your intentions. If they are breeding for performance, they want to be sure your dog will get the exercise and mental challenge they need. Otherwise, that energy can get channeled into behavior you definitely don’t want. They can’t ever promise you won’t get a pet quality temperament when they choose a performance puppy or vice versa, but they are your best chance are getting the dog you want.
What You Can Expect From A Breeder
In addition, a great breeder, because of their commitment to their dogs, will usually support you with medical and behavior issues. I am not saying a breeder will necessarily pay for all or even any problems, but they know their dogs and can help you by providing a history of their line and also advice. At times, they will pay for testing or a hereditary problem but that is outlined in your contract. Make sure that you do get a contract. In some cases, they may even take the dog back to care for it or place it in another home. Of course, no one wants to have problems, certainly not the breeder so that is why it is so important to choose each other wisely.
You will need to ask but some other things a breeder may provide, include your puppy’s :
screenings for possible hereditary conditions, when available
first set of vaccines in the puppy series, depending on age
flea and/or heartworm prevention (if so, usually only the first dose)
information on feeding and possibly a sample of the food
a guarantee against hip dysplasia or other medical issues
note too, that they may have restrictions on how or if you can register your puppy, about spaying and neutering as well as breeding
A special benefit with experienced breeders:
Another potential benefit is the community of owners fostered by some breeders. If you haven’t been lucky enough to have the experience, I can’t adequately put into words how much fun it is to follow your pup’s littermates, share in the fun when they have a big win or accomplishment and make the lasting friendships that often result; especially through Facebook. Because of Facebook, I am now connected to people all over the country and even a couple internationally through our dogs.
Even learning that the pups share the same idiosyncrasies makes me smile, like when I found out that the same cross seems to produce a dog that loves, not just water, but loves to put their front feet in and paddle even in the water bowl! What a mess!
The community also supports each other when there are question or problems. Forming these relationships has been one of my favorite things about having my dogs and have become a key element in my search.
More News Coming!
I’ll blog a bit more often while I am getting this puppy home so you’ll learn more about my search. All searches are their own adventure!
Have you or are you part of a community of owners? Have you made friends this way? If so, I’d love to hear about it so leave a comment below.
I have practiced veterinary medicine in the Cleveland area since 1990, with behavior medicine as my primary interest. I help improve the behavior of dogs and cats through a variety of online courses. I also offer one-on-one and group behavior training sessions in the Northeastern Ohio area.