Do you enjoy living with your dog? Are you happy leaving them loose in your home as they're quiet and well-behaved when you do so? Do you look forward to picking up your dog's lead and taking them out on a walk? Do they walk politely by your side and greet people they meet appropriately? Or is your experience a little more like the one in the picture below? ;)
My focus when I meet people in 1-2-1 appointments or home visits, is to gather as much evidence as I can about your dog's life and how they fit into yours. Here's some questions that I might ask you:
- How old is your dog? How long have you had them? What sort of home/ rescue situation where they in before they came to you? Of course this background can't be changed, but it does help us begin to understand where we are today.
- Who else lives in your home? Do other family members look after your dog on a regular basis? Children - ages? Other pets - are there any problems there? Our dogs understanding of good behaviour is shaped by the people and other animals in its life. Are they getting good information?? ;)
- What food do you feed your dog on? How many meals a day? Do you leave your dog's food down all of the time? Are they good eaters? Diet is an essential component when thinking about your dog's behaviour. Imagine asking a child to be sensible and calm after a birthday party with lots of fizzy pop and sugary treats! :D
- What's your daily routine look like? What sort of walks does your dog get? On lead or off-lead? Various or the same each day? Do you have a dog walker? Exercise is a vital component in a happy, healthy and obedient dog. But it can be hard to know how much, how often and what a great walk looks like for a dog if you've not had one before!
You'll be pleased to know that for the most part, problems that seem insurmountable can often be solved by some simple, but key changes. And interestingly, the thing that I get called in for is rarely the root of the issue. Usually it's just a symptom of something else that can be improved upon. Answers to these questions give me clues to where we should be focusing our training time.
Over this month I'm going to share with you how you too can have a dog you can be proud of - just by incorporating simple changes into your daily routine.
Today I'm grateful for by baby girl Vodka, who at 11 months old is naughty and deliciously nice in equal measure! She is a reminder to me of the trials and tribulations dog ownership can bring - but also of the amazing joy and friendship that can be had when you look hard enough for it too :)