Dog Training Myths #4 and #5

Myth #4: My dog pulls on the leash, jumps on me or runs out the door in front of me because he is dominant.

Truth:  This word “dominance” is used to explain every behavior that a dog does.  The concept of dominance is a difficult one and is usually mis-used, so I have ousted it out of my vocabulary altogether.  Dogs seldom want to rule the world; they tend to be more on the opportunistic side, if anything.  They pull because we walk to slow, they jump to smell us and say “Hi” and they run out the door first because in “doggy world” “I want to be there first to get the best stuff…so why not?”  More dogs have been punished for behaving like a dog than I care to count.  This isn’t to say that these behaviors can’t be corrected, but not with punishment nor with the idea that “my dog wants to be in charge”.

Myth #5: My dog knows he did something wrong.  He looks guilty.

  Although there is a lot of debate on the emotional intellect of dogs, as of right now, the theory is that dogs live in the moment. If Fido destroyed your curtain and you walk through the door and he seems “guilty”, he is taking his cue from your body language.  If he looks guilty the next time, it is probably because “sometimes you come home and you are happy and sometimes you are angry…which will it be today”.   Dogs are wonderful at reading our body language. They pick up on the smallest changes and can read us better than most of our friends can!