Thursday, July 11, 2013

Confessions of a Dog Trainer - 4

I confessed my dogs weren't perfect last month, this month I'm here to tell you something you're really not going to believe. Truly, it was a shocker for me to.

Wait for it.

BAM - I'm not perfect either.

<gasp> I know, I know. I didn't believe it, but it's out there now and I can't take it back. Apparently, I am only human and I make mistakes. Mistakes usually caused by emotion, another one of those pesky human-type things.

My most common mistake - yelling at the dogs. I hear other people yell at their dogs and think to myself, gosh I would never do that. Um, really Erin? Let's not throw stones here. I can at least attest to the fact that I don't yell at my dogs in public, because I am careful about what situations I put them in. But at home? The answer is yes.

Now before everyone freaks out about how I am cruel to my dogs, I know I am not alone.

Image taken from Proactive Parenting

And before you get your panties in a twist, I don't yell at my dogs all the time. Geesh, I'm not THAT person :). But sadly I do get frustrated. And lazy. And sometimes I have a bad day where nothing goes right and the dogs' behavior is just icing on the crap cake. So sometimes I lose it from time to time, but my dogs are perceptive animals, which means most often they are not much impressed when I do.

Here is what I am usually yelling (probably to the delight of my neighbors):

Bourbon quit barking at the rabbit, he's teasing you on purpose.

Vito quit humping the pillows.

Bourbon stop barking at the squirrel, he's across the damn street and not even trespassing yet.

Baron quit humping Vito.

Bourbon seriously, quit barking at ... <usually I then check outside> NOTHING, you think you're funny don't you.

Monday quit humping Vito, just because Baron did it, doesn't mean you get to.

Baron leave Monday alone or I'll let her tell you herself and you won't like it.

Oddly, I never yell at Rookie. I'm pretty sure he's perfect :). Looking over the list and seeing all these events unfold in my head as I remember them, maybe I should clarify what I mean by yelling. I don't get in their face, scream at them, wagging my finger or whatever. I'm usually in the other room (hence the lazy part) and it's just a raised voice. Also no stomping involved here, I don't like stomping and I'm sure that would scare Vito.

Yelling seems to be a reflex in many ways; we do it to kids, we do it to each other, and obviously we do it to our dogs. I honestly can't imagine never yelling at my dogs, I'm just not that perfect.

But anger and yelling can have a negative impact on our relationships with our dogs. Some dogs react in fear and don't want to be around the 'loud' person. Other dogs may think you are barking with them (if they were barking in the first place) and will be encouraged to bark more. And still some others can think the yelling is a challenge and may react with aggression. You need to know your dogs. If your dog is frightened and you continue to yell, then yes you are being cruel. My dogs are pretty laid back, confident dogs, with the exception of Vito. Oddly, yelling at the dogs has never seemed to bother him. But when Nicholas and I have an argument, all the dogs disappear and are way more affected by that than by me yelling at them.

I love my dogs, but they are not fine china., they can handle some ups and downs in our relationship. No relationship is perfect, certainly not when it involves humans with emotions :).

1 comment:

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