A lifetime of living, learning and training dogs has given me a pretty clear understanding of how to motivate a dog to do what I want!
Regardless of a dog’s past I can help it live a better life. Whether I am dealing with a recent rescue trying to acclimate or to help a family pet overcome undesirable behavior; fixing the dog is the least of my worries.
Most problems arise when a trainer tries to change the dog but not the corresponding people! If any change is going to occur it must be evenly matched. Which is why I never suggest an owner just become more dominant? This can only lead to mistrust from the pet or even worse, a violent retaliation! Most dogs already know your character and how to get around a half hearted command. If you think your dog is ignoring you reevaluate if you had ever actually taught him what you are expecting. Just because he understands a sit command with a cookie doesn’t mean he is capable of sitting when the doorbell rings!
Of course there can be situations where even the best trainer can find it difficult to make improvements.
The genetics, history and sensitivity level of a dog will greatly impact his potential. Not to imply you can’t teach an old dog a new trick! You just need to adjust your expectations to match the dog’s capability. Or at least create smaller goals that build towards your end goal. As an example, a dog with a serious predatory drive shouldn’t be thrown into a home with numerous small animals. As it can pose great risk. But teaching that same dog to avoid and restrain himself while passing smaller prey on leash can be an excellent first step.
Make a wish list to help your dog “Live his best life”
Focus on a few points that you can all realistically commit to. Pick ones that are in both your best interest. Although a dog who barks at the mailman can be a nuisance it generally doesn’t affect his physical and mental health. If his reactions are so severe that he has become dangerously close to jumping through your front window then yes you should make it a priority! I believe some of the best advice to every pet owner is to pick your battles wisely. Try to create a safe area in your home that allows him to play, sleep and learn with minimal monitoring on your part (that includes outdoor time). This will give you a break in the day from the exhaustion of micro-managing him! A developing dog needs to chew, play and rest uninterrupted. Remember if you can’t fix it, control it and if you can’t control it avoid it and if you can’t avoid it move it!