The Family Team
We get so many questions from families that need help with many different issues. Sometimes it's because the 6 month old puppy still isn't potty trained, or sometimes it's because a dog won't listen to specific family members.
So what do we do when we have people approach with these issues? We help of course!
There are times when we discover that in the family, there is only one person practicing with the puppy. Sometimes we are told "it's my child's dog" other times we hear "my spouse is busy" or "my teenagers aren't interested in the dog". In these cases, we discover that the family isn't working as a team with the family pet and are in fact, sabotaging themselves in the process!
Your dog needs consistency in their lives. When in a single person home, this is much easier to provide. However, when in a family, your dog may not get that consistency. Some people may ignore specific rules when they are inconvenient, or children may be too young to be able to enforce those rules in the correct manner.
Here are some situations where the lack of teamwork can confuse your dog and cause training to take longer than necessary:
Potty Training - Potty training requires a lot of attention. Your puppy has a small bladder that they cannot gain full control of until they reach 6 months of age. However, if everyone in the house is on high alert and following the family plan, it can go quickly. Potty training can fail because somebody is playing on their phone, or a parent is in a zoom meeting while working from home, or even worse, someone in the house may just find it easier to clean up messes than to take puppy potty every 30 minutes! If even one member of the family team gives up on getting the puppy outside on time, your puppy will learn that going potty inside is no big deal!
Jumping - Without consistency, your dog can be encouraged to continue jumping on every human they meet! The family team must be on guard and all following the same plan to prevent jumping from becoming a habit. Jumping is so much fun to your dog, so if one of your family members gives up, then it will continue!
These behaviors can be frustrating for the members of your family team that are sticking to the plan because they are doing everything right, but one person is ruining all their hard work. Your dog is only doing what they've learned, and they learned that sometimes people play with them when they jump up.
How to fix it:
It's time for a family meeting! The solution to fixing these issues is for all the humans in the household to sit down and talk about it. Here are some things that you can discuss with your team to get them on the same page as you.
We are confusing our dog - A lot of time, family members think they are giving the dog a bit of fun by letting the rules slip. Everyone wants to be "the fun uncle" or it's equivalent in your home. What this is actually doing is setting your dog up for confusion and higher amounts of stress. When the rules are only followed sometimes, our dogs no longer know what to expect of us and we become unpredictable which causes anxiety in our pets. By making sure everyone is following the rules, we help our dogs know what to expect with our predictability.
What you do is important - Often times, the people in the household who let things slept don't realize how much they are slowing down the dog's training. Dogs are not machines which are automatically obedient. It takes work on your part! You are training your dog every moment of every day with your actions, even if you do not realize it.
With this family meeting you may discover that people weren't doing this on purpose, but because they did not realize how important it is for the whole family to be on the same team. Make sure your whole family agrees to the rules that you set and they all understand why these rules matter. With this, compromise will be necessary, as different members of your family may have different ideas.
Here's a list of things you should discuss and decide on:
Is the dog allowed on the couch?
Where will the dog be while we eat dinner?
Is the dog allowed to sleep in the bed?
What do we do when the dog is left alone?
Who is in charge of feeding the dog?
What time does the dog eat?
How many treats can the dog have in a day?
Does the dog go potty outside or on a potty pad?
How do we react when the dog jumps?
How many times do we walk the dog a week?
These should be a great way to help your family become the team that you and your dog need to succeed! If everyone in the house helps, your dog's training will go so much faster!