We can all improve our “kindness quotient.” Here are some things you can start doing now, today, that will get you smiling and your dog’s tail wagging!
- ♥ Pledge to put the word “No” away for a week. This will force you to find new, better, kinder ways to communicate with your dog. See
- for more.
♥ Think of training as a game to play with your dog rather than a dominance fight you have to win. If you play this game right, you both win.
♥ Realize this is a partnership where politeness and good manners are required of both partners.
♥ Make a list of all the things you would like your dog to do. Mark all the things s/he does right now. Mark all the ones you regularly reward your dog for doing. Use this list to motivate you to start rewarding desireable behaviors instead of correcting/punishing undesirable ones.
♥ Close your eyes and visualize, the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen, then the cutest kitten, and finally the cutest baby. Open your eyes and look in the mirror — that is the expression you want to show your dog.
♥ Pledge to yourself that the next time something goes awry, you will laugh out loud. That will put you in the right frame of mind to deal with the situation.
♥ Words matter! Start changing your vocabulary: Instead of “obey” say “cooperate,” “partner” or “respond.” Instead of “commands,” say “directions,” “instructions,” “cues,” “trigger words” or “guidance.” Instead of “dominating,” “being the alpha,” “showing him who’s boss” and “being the pack leader,” say “helping,” “teaching,” “supporting,” “guiding,” “parenting,”or “being your dog’s tour guide.”
>> SEE/PRINT/SHARE “Words Matter!” document.
♥ Plan meticulously your entire exercise, listing out loud all your “what if” scenarios. You will be less likely to fall back into old, less kind habits if you have your mental toolbox full of better methods.
♥ Take a hard look at your training tools. Get rid of or replace anything that has a strong negative association for your dog. Dump the chokers/slips and prongs/pinches in favor of head collars and front-hook harnesses. Mothball the e-collars and yes, even the spray bottle! You already know these things are unkind. What you also need to know is other effective, kinder tools are out there. Find them!