Quick – what’s one of the all time greatest movies ever made?
If you answered Top Gun you are correct.
I haven’t met anyone yet that has not loved that movie. I’m sure there are some that don’t but they are few and far in between.
If for some reason you’ve been living in a cave or on a desert island since 1986 and have NOT seen the movie, it is a story about two Navy pilots attending Fighter Weapons School, also known as Top Gun.
Goose is a character who dies, and when his friend (Maverick) is in trouble he says, “Talk to me Goose,” in an effort to get through a tough situation.
As a dog trainer I have had many, many “Talk to me Goose” situations.
Being a dog trainer is one of the best professions anyone could ever ask for. I get to work and meet great dogs and owners everyday. Much of my work is done on a sunny beach or shady park.
I also hear from many of you, my loyal email newsletter readers.
Many of my clients become good friends of mine
But there is a sad side to the business. That is when dogs go to the dark side. Dogs by nature are predators. They hunt, bite and use their teeth and jaws to protect themselves, whether the threat is real or perceived.
Its when I am working with an aggressive dog, I find myself saying: “Talk to me Goose.”
So today I want to share with you some tips to help you so you never have to silently ask Goose for help.
1. Socialize early!!! If you have a puppy under four months old please go to a puppy class, go to the beach, go to the woods, the city, and around other friendly dogs and people. Socialize!
2. Focus on what your dog is doing right. I know, sounds like I am a new age, let’s all hug and sing Kumbaya. The problem is that we tend to give attention to what we don’t like in our dogs. The very behaviors we want to go away become stronger and happen more often. The behaviors we like get ignored.
3. Throw away your choke and prong collars. Let me drop a little know-how on ya. The overwhelming majority of people use these collars wrong. Many trainers don’t even know the correct way to use them. So please, please toss them in the trash.
4. Learn how to use positive AND negative consequences. A positive consequence is used to train the dog to do something for us (sit, stay, come etc.). A Negative consequence is used to STOP behaviors we don’t like (jumping, begging, barking etc.).
Here’s the rub with negative consequences – they can’t be associated with you. Positive consequences are associated with you, negatives are associated with the behavior.
Follow these tips and you and your dog can avoid the path to the dark side.
And if you ever find yourself in a tough situation with your dog remember these words:
“Talk to me Eric.”
And I’ll answer. Details coming soon.