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LEARNING LIMITATIONS

 

Limitations are the most fundamental aspect that governs a dog’s behaviour. Limitations allow your dog to calm down significantly. The lack of limitations is evident when your dog excessively amplifies a behavioural state without understanding the limit. For example, a dog that starts playing and progresses to mouth, barking and jumping. Owners usually do not enforce control to establish limitations, which causes behavioural issues. In other words, owners unknowingly allow their dogs to pass limits that should have been set in place. With that in mind, it is never too late to enforce limitations and take up the proper leadership role that your dog needs.


Playtime

Controlling excitement during playtime allows your dog to know the extent of excitement that he can exercise. This relates to other situations that involve controlling excitement.

  1. Do not play rough with your dog. Being a role model allows you to display the extent of excitement and focus that is desired. Avoid the game of tug-of-war.

  2. Stop the game when your dog is excessively excited, but do not end it. For example, hold the ball and refrain from throwing it if your dog jumps, paws your leg, nips your arm or spins excitedly. Continue once your dog calms down.

  3. Fluctuate excitement appropriately. Judging your dog’s response, you may increase or decrease excitement to engage your dog’s focus.


Feeding time

Many dogs are excited during feeding, possibly encouraging the development of unwanted behaviours such as jumping, barking, whining and excessive drooling. It is hence important to control this excitement source.

  1. Do not say the “sit” and “stay” command. You would want your dog to be naturally calm instead of sitting but maintaining an excited state. 

  2. Hold the bowl of food while standing while maintaining a confident body language.

  3. Wait until your dog automatically sits or lay down before slowly lowering the food bowl. 

  4. If your dog approaches the food without consent, stand back up, raising the food bowl.

  5. Repeat steps 3 till 4 until your dog associates that he has to be calm.


What you should not do


  • Talk to your dog

Talking to dogs with the intent to change behavioural issues may backfire, as attention is given when your dog shows excitement. This pulling behaviour is then reinforced and may snowball to higher levels during the next walk. It is always best to lead by actions instead of complicating the training process and introduce sentences that your dog may never figure out.


  • Demand commands

Commands are used to mask behavioural issues. Behavioural issues are derived from an unwanted mental state, such as excitement. Taking appropriate measures to address the root cause, excitement, is not done by asking your dog to sit. A dog can sit with his tail still wagging excitedly, also known as silent excitement. This can progress to excessive excitement that all owners want to prevent, such as jumping and barking. Hence, a well-trained dog does not equal to a well-behaved dog.


By controlling the two most important aspects of a dog’s routine, play and feeding, you should be able to regulate your dog’s excitement in response to stimuli that would normally trigger excitement. Do note that the progress depends on the environment, confidence and patience of the handler, past reactions to the excitement and other factors. Do engage an experienced dog behaviourist should any behavioural issues persist.