- Define the “House Rules”. This addresses the expectations of everyone in the household – people as well as pets. Both you and Bailey (refers to dog or cat) will begin to understand what’s expected. Bailey will be able to predict your reaction (or lack of) and you’ll begin to narrow down what behaviors you want Bailey to do or not to do. Bailey will learn that no matter who is near him, the rule is the same. For example, the pets are not allowed on the furniture – this happens no matter who is home, no matter how cute Bailey may be at the time, etc.
- Be Consistent. Establish (and stick to) a routine that incorporates the new behavior you expect from your pet. Routines establish predictability which then helps everyone live up to their expectations. 2+2=4…this is consistently true, right? It’s not just true on some days, or in some situations. It doesn’t depend on your mood or on the weather. When you have consistency, the new behavior will become as predictable as a math equation.
- Stay Calm and Patient. Take the drama out of the situation. Yes, teaching manners can be frustrating at times. It’s an ongoing battle for all of us. When you allow drama to take over, your pet may be accidentally rewarded for a behavior you really didn’t want reinforced. As with any of us – adult, child, pet – bad attention is better than no attention. Too much emotion takes away the consistency and predictability of your training techniques. It can add confusion to an already challenging task. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed during a training session or a stressful situation (i.e. your dog just tackled the pizza delivery guy at the front door and is happily munching on your breadsticks) it’s time to step back and take a deep breath. Walk away for a bit and come back to your pet in a little while. It’s not worth jeopardizing your relationship with your four-legged companion. You’ve worked way too hard to lose ground now.
As with anything, learning a new habit can be overwhelming. To encourage yourself to keep working toward your goal, it’s important to celebrate the baby steps along the way. These baby steps add up and before you know it, your pet will have such nice manners that your friends will be begging you for advice.
We at CCAH firmly believe that if we understand our pet’s behaviors (and where these behaviors come from and what causes them), it will be much easier to include our pets as members of our families. For more information on Behavior Consultations at CCAH, please follow this link.