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There is no such word as ‘no’.

That little word which packs a punch in our world means diddly squat to a dog. To us humans, ‘no’ means so many things. ‘No, I don’t like that’, ‘no, stop’, ‘no that’s not right’, ‘no, get down’, ‘no, get off’ etc… The problem with telling a dog no is, they cannot differentiate between your ‘no’s’. Dogs are terrible at generalising so ‘no’ in one context e.g. ‘no, don’t jump on that child in the park’ is totally different to ‘no, don’t jump up at the counter whilst at home’. The dog jumping up at children in the park could be over stimulated – a park is sensory overload for dogs. Think of all the sights, sounds, smells and textures they have to take in. As adult humans, we have spent years becoming habituated to all these senses so they do not have a huge impact on us in every day life. Try setting your phone to record whilst in a park and play it back in a quiet room. I promise you will hear a whole load of stuff you weren’t even aware of whilst you were there. And that is just one sense. Think about that level of crazy going into your brain across all of your senses and you will go some way to having the experience your dog has. We must, instead, think about why the dog is doing this behaviour rather than throwing a blanket ‘no’ at everything we do not like. The dog who jumps up at the counter could be just trying to get their food more quickly or they could be doing it as they know they will get attention, be it negative or positive. Have empathy and think about it from their perspective. They are hungry and you are preparing a yummy steak for supper. Quite frankly, I would jump up to the counter for that! Recognise the hints your dog is giving you before the unwanted behaviour happens. Have awareness of your own actions which pre-curse your dog’s unwanted behaviour. Have you rushed home absolutely starving, ignored the dog to go straight to the kitchen and start prepping food for yourself? Your dog will need some form of attention and food for themselves, so in order to prevent the counter surfing it would be a good idea to give some calming attention and give them their supper or some kind of chew BEFORE you sort yourself out. If you have thought about these things and proactively provide what your dog needs, ultimately your relationship will be more positive. Their needs have been met and you won’t be crabby cos Rex hasn’t nicked your fillet steak. Winner.

Article by Helen Baker - Muddy Buddies Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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