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Dog Manners & Obedience

Dog Manners and Dog Obedience are Not the Same Thing!

What's The Difference?

Dogs should know manners and obedience commands, however, they are different from one another! I know many people whose dogs have amazing, AMAZING obedience skills, these dogs have blue ribbons, trophies and numerous titles.
But many of them have NO MANNERS.

These highly trained ‘obedient’ dogs will jump on you, steal the food out of your hand, run out the door and if you didn’t see the ribbons and certificates of accomplishment you wouldn’t believe these dogs have flawless obedience skills!  Equate this to – children who get very good grades but have no manners at the dinner table, are obnoxious when they greet people etc. While this is typical of dogs (and kids) remember manners, like obedience commands are taught!

Manners verses obedience– citing they are different may seem silly, and while they seem similar, they are not the same. Your dog knows a few things, for example ‘stay’. You taught him how to stay or reinforced the behavior – he didn’t just burst out of the womb knowing the ‘stay’ command.

I would personally rather have a dog with good manners than a dog with perfect obedience skills. If I had to pick one or the other it would be manners (Canine Path can help you teach your dog manners and obedience!)

Manners are the simple attributes that make our dogs easier to live with such as:

– Not soiling the house
– Not jumping on people
– Not barking endlessly or at common occurrences (people walking by your window, leaving blowing in the wind, or that crazy bird giving him the stink eye through the window!)
– Not being destructive
– Not stealing food or other things
– Not bolting out the door
– Not chasing the cat
– Not jumping on furniture or running through the house like your tail is on fire.

These and many, many more are examples of good manners. While teaching your dog to shake, roll over or even turn on a light switch may seem cool, but manners are more important.

Good manners involve your dog choosing to perform a polite behavior he thinks of on his own. We call these “default” behaviors, which means something a dog does on his own. It is not a behavior preceded by a command or cue.

Teaching your dog a default behavior produces a dog that is polite and manageable in day-to-day situations. Solid default behaviors provide dogs with an effective and polite way to ask for something they want or need, or if they are unsure as to what to do in a situation. A reliable command or cue is a great thing, but it requires us to ask our dog to do something. Building these core behaviors takes time and knowing how to set clear expectations, but the results are worth it!

Many owners take their dogs to obedience class; sometimes multiple obedience classes yet have no idea how to teach their dog’s manners.  I often get questions like:–  He is a great dog in the house, but he pulls on leash like he’s training for a sled dog race.

–  He heels on leash beautifully until he sees another dog then he’s disobedient.

–  He sits nicely but does not come when called.

The tricky part of “bad manners” is that they can be somewhat self rewarding: stealing food from the counter, eating out of the cat box, running around with your stolen things can be fun to a dog (dogs are keen observers and know when they make you laugh, cry or both!).

You (everyone in the same household) need to consistently set proper expectations:

–  How do you expect your dog to act in the house, in the car or in your yard?

–  What rooms is he allowed in?

–  Is he allowed in the furniture?

–  Are you consistent within the household (is the dog allowed to be on the couch

– yes, no, or when invited).

–  Where should he be when you are eating? Perhaps the stuffed animals need to be put away or moved to somewhere he cannot get them.  ​

Setting proper expectations and managing your dog, his environment and training him to properly behave and make good choices is the owner’s responsibility.

Ultimately, good manners are what make a dog a good pet, and good manners make a dog a much more enjoyable family member!

Canine Path is happy to teach your dog Obedience and Good Manners!

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