“My dog will not come on command to save his life,” says Somone Hicks of Riverside. Her 5 year old bulldog, Gordo, has been ignoring her commands for years. “I got him from the pound when he was about 8 months old. He was a wild puppy but I excused a lot of his bad behavior because of his age.” This is not an unfamiliar tale. All too often the mistakes we make with our dog in the beginning wind up condemning us for the rest of that dog’s life. In fact, this phenomenon has inspired a little saying we have all heard at least once, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. For those of us dealing with a disobedient dog at home, we ask ourselves; are they lazy, just plain stupid, or are they simply ignoring us?
Studies show that 70% - 80% of dog owners do not care if their dog can perform tricks or exhibit special skills (like tracking or fetching), they only ask that their dog come when called, get along with other dogs (and humans), and not destroy the yard. In the grand scheme of dog training, those are three pretty basic requests, yet they are the top three issues plaguing most dog owners. To make matters worse, these bad habits are usually only a product of the constant struggle between dog and dog owner to see who is actually in charge (and I can tell you it most likely isn’t the owner). So where do we go wrong and how do we correct this problem after so much time has passed?
This is not an easy exercise, especially for those who let the dog run the house. It is hard to watch your dog be unable to do what he wants or play when he wants, but this psychological shift has to happen in order for you to regain control in your home. Once you have your symbolic fresh start underway, you can start resetting the foundation of successful training. That means going back and perfecting the basic commands that are often taken for granted.