SO JUST WHAT ARE NON NEGOTIABLE RULES?
Over the course of my blogs and my training classes, you have heard me refer to the “non negotiable rules” when it comes to human and dog relationships. It occurred to me that while I might give examples and even talk about them from time to time, I have never really defined what they are and why I stress using them so much. With that said here we go.
Non negotiable rules are the behaviors you expect your dog to exhibit every day; not only to instill good manners, but to put you, the human, in a role of leadership. These rules also give us the opportunity to work with our dog, without carving out “training” time each day; instead you just live your life as normal and you and Fido just live by the rules you have chosen. Without even realizing it Fido gets trained without even thinking about it! These rules are also crucial in embedding impulse control in Fido! Based on my observations, lack of impulse control is responsible for roughly 60-70% of all problem behaviors. So, just what rules should you require?
That is a question that you as the “owner” have to come up with! Your trainer can give you suggestions of ways to achieve the goals you have for Fido; but in the end you have to decide what behaviors are wanted vs. those that are unwanted. The fact of the matter is…what I want from my dogs might be totally different than what you want from your dog! This is the main reason I refer to myself as a Pet Dog Trainer rather than obedience or even a plain old dog trainer! My job is to help people successfully live with their pet dog based on what they want and need!
As you are thinking of what your rules will be, let me share with you, my “top ten list” of things I require from my dogs every day. These things improve my dogs’ behavior and keep me in the role of “Top Dog” without having to resort to being a “Butt-Head” to my dogs.
These are my Non Negotiable Rules:
1. Sit and/or Down at every door
2. Sit and/or Down before every meal
3. Sit before leash is put on
4. Ask permission before getting on furniture or beds
a. This means a sit, then being invited up (you make the final choice)
5. Walks only continue if there is no pulling
a. Fido pulls – walk stops until dog calms down and sits; then we will try again
6. Go to crate on command using “go to bed” or “kennel up”
7. Crazy behavior equals no attention
a. If the dog gives any unwanted behavior – I ignore for 2 minutes
8. Dog must have a reliable leave it command
a. Dog should know that leave it means move back and wait for further instructions
9. Dog must have reliable recall or consistently come when called
a. This should work in the house, outside, at the park and yes, even the dog park
10. Dog must stay behind you on stairs, with the “wait” command. This should be used at doors as well. Dog knows to stay behind you until invited to move forward.
a. “Excuse me” or “Back up” is the other side of this coin, where the dog understands to get out of the way for you to move through…
In the end, people find it hard to “make the time” or “be consistent” when it comes to training their dogs! Creating your own list of non negotiable rules and sticking to them fixes both issues.
I’m sure that you are aware of the idea out there, that in dog training we must “rule over”, “be the boss,” or in some cases even dominate the dog to achieve and keep a leadership role. In my opinion, this is not at all necessary and in many cases is “just plain mean.” Leadership, whether with dogs or people, is all about resource control! If I control the dog’s most important resources; food, water, access to my attention or even access to other things he enjoys (like furniture, beds, toys and so on) I will naturally become the leader without having to resort to physical force. In a matter of speaking, this is as simple as relying on your brain instead of your brute! So get out paper and pencil and come up with you own list of non negotiable rules; start using them and in no time you and Fido will be on your way to living a happy, healthy and relaxed life together!
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