Friday, March 14, 2014

Confessions of a Dog Trainer - 7

I seem to have a lot to confess, darn it I am ruining my perfect image! :)

Well here's a doozy for you, something that goes against the 'traditional' nonsense that gets spewed by certain National Geographic TV show watchers...

My dogs get fed first AND go out the door first!

Shut the front door!! O.M.G. - I must have total anarchy at my house!! My dogs must be totally dominant over me and think they rule the roost!! How can we live like this!?!


Bourbon certainly looks like a dictator :).
I'm so over all the 'rules' that come along with the alpha dog mindset or leader of the pack gibberish that you overhear everywhere. Why do I need to go to such lengths to show my dog's who's boss? That's too much work for me :).

In my house we do what works for the dogs and what works for us. Easy peasy. So yes my dogs eat breakfast before I've even thought about food - mostly because our routine is to feed and then potty. After pottying is done, then I get ready for work and generally eat breakfast at the office - which is about the time I start to get hungry :).

Dinner is roughly the same story - my dogs eat when I get home from work because that is the best routine for our situation. So I get home and feed them and then potty them, and then I start to think about what we humans are going to have to make for dinner. That seems to work really well for us, especially since lots of nights we don't even eat until 9:00 pm. I think the dogs would have hunger pukes if I started not giving them dinner until 10 pm!!

Has this changed my dogs for the worse? Are they actively plotting to take over the world?
"Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky -  try to take over the world!"
Definitely not :). But having this consistent schedule has really helped them know what to expect and it aides greatly in house-training! They don't care when they eat, they just want to eat :).

Vito is apparently ready to go out!
Dogs are wired to do what works for them, which is such a great attribute to latch onto in training. So dogs going out the door before you is just merely them getting really excited to do something that is reinforcing for them. It generally has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with what goes on outside (sniffing, running, going for a walk or car ride, squirrel chasing, etc.). Going outside is VERY reinforcing for dogs.

So while my dogs do go outside before me, I did take the time to teach them to wait at the door until I say it's okay to go through. This is an important skill that every dog should acquire. But once I release them, they don't care who goes out the door first as long as we actually go out the door.

Forget about all the should/always/never advice that is everywhere on the internet and just keep in mind what works for your family.


  1. Our dogs go out the door first, because it's just easier. I count to make sure all four went through and then I follow. They still turn around to see what's next. :)

    Thanks for the confession; now I feel confident about what I'm doing. I kind of felt like I was giving up on what our trainer taught us.

    1. For some reason these are two things that get harped on and they really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. :) I'm sure you are doing a great job!