Being Mom to Yorkies was much different than being Mom to German Shepherds. The difference doesn’t have to do so much with the size of the dog as you might think, or the fact that Shepherds shed and Yorkies don’t.
Adopting German Shepherds has been quite the learning experience for me and not all of it’s been a bed of roses. I have unknowingly made mistakes which are now causing some major concerns. To be very honest with you, there are days when I really wonder whatever possessed me to bring these two characters into my heart and home. Then I look at them, my heart melts and I remember all that they give me without asking for anything in return. The comfort I feel just having them with me is enormous and I’m reminded quickly why they’re here, that I wasn’t crazy to adopt them and that I’m totally committed to them and fixing my mistakes.
Determinations and Decision Making
The first thing I feel I need to learn is that when my dog exhibits unacceptable behavior, I need to determine if it’s a dog behavior or dog training issue. Is my dog being naughty or is he just being a dog … and more importantly … how do I handle it?
This is not so easy for some people as it is for others. What makes it even more difficult is that before I can do anything, I must first go through these four steps:
- I must first witness the dog’s behavior.
- Determine if it’s a behavioral or training issue.
- Figure out the proper course of action for me to take based on my split-second determination of whether it’s a behavior or training issue.
- Take action by performing the proper correction.
The Consequences MUST Fit the Action
Now, if that’s not enough of a brain-drain on me, because dogs live in the moment, I have to do this all within about 10 seconds so that the dog understands the consequences of it’s action! Doling out consequences even 20 seconds later is a waste of time because the dog will not understand that this is what happens when he does that. It just doesn’t work that way. The timing of the correction must be immediate. Remember the old “stick his nose in it if he pees in the house” even if it’s hours later? Forget it. The dog does not relate the consequences to an incident that happened more than about 10 seconds ago.
This continues to be a very frustrating obstacle for me as I try to make my way through the “new to me” world of dog behavior. I grew up with a hunting dog in the house. When I was a kid, my Dad had “Dusty” who was a Weimereiner and a wonderful pet. I think if Dusty could figure out how to feed us kids and put us to bed, my folks never would have needed a babysitter. They knew that there was no way anyone with harm on their minds would get anywhere near us kids. The point here being I learned about training a dog. Training is sit, stay, down, come – that kind of thing – not to be confused with dog behavior.