Good Cop Bad Cop

I was walking one of my dogs on a nature trail and we came upon another dog and his humans coming towards us from the opposite direction.  

The dog was a little reactive so the pet parents (and man and a lady – maybe spouses, I don’t know), pulled the dog over to the side.

The lady rubbed the dog and talked soothingly to him and let him know everything was going to be alright. At the same time,  the man talk very sternly, admonishing the dog for reacting.

I thought to myself: “that must be one confused dog!”

Dogs who live with more than one human caretaker are quite lucky in a lot of ways, but when the human caretakers aren’t on the same page when it comes to training, the dogs’ training, even their mental well-being can suffer.

Author, Patricia McConnell, discusses this issue in her book Family Dog Training.

All caretakers must discuss what words, what techniques will be used, then all must agree to be consistent.  If Mom tells the dog “down” when she wants the dog off the couch and Dad tells the dog “down” when he wants the dog to stop jumping and daughter says “down” when she wants the dog to lay down, the dog isn’t going to know what down means.

While family members are working on being consistent, try not to be mad at the family dog for not complying with requests.  The dog isn’t being defiant or stubborn, or “dominant.” The dog simply doesn’t understand what you want.

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