We are currently halfway through our dog training package with our private trainer and I have exciting results to report! It has been just over a month since Jackson turned one and we really stepped up our game to curb his unwanted behavior. This month has been extremely challenging, eye-opening and amazing. The biggest “wins” we have had have been more awareness about why Jackson is behaving the way he is in each scenario and making sure that Jackson gets enough exercise.
On the first day of training, we were asked if Jackson gets enough exercise. Both of us answered “yes” knowing that we walk Jackson anywhere between 5-7 miles a day. We were schooled when our trainer informed us that while that’s nice, it’s not the type of exercise that Jackson needs. It turns out he needs 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise like running, playing fetch, swimming or playing tug. Honestly, that alone, has been the biggest change we have seen in his behavior. When he is actually well-exercised he is a totally different and much more amazing dog!
Our trainer has armed us with more confidence and tools to build a better relationship with our pup and make sure he remembers that we’re the one’s in charge! Here is what we have been working on:
*Walking, walking, walking and more walking. I thought that Jackson did pretty well at walking on a leash in our neighborhood. I was so wrong after now seeing what it looks like when he is actually listening to me and “walking nice” as we now say. Katie, our trainer, gave us some invaluable advice on how to teach Jackson to “walk nice” and a week and a half after my own personal boot camp session, I can safely say that Jackson listens to me and actually does “walk nice.” Now we just need to step it up and practice in more distracting environments, like down by the lake,
*Anxiety. We thought that Jackson had a pretty great deal of anxiety. It turns out that he’s just a huge brat who is trying to manipulate us. Yep. He sure got us! Katie taught us how to tell when he is actually anxious versus when he is exhibiting demand behavior. While he definitely has some anxiety in certain situations, most of what we thought was anxiety is really him just trying to get what he wants.
*Jumping and door manners. Jackson is the friendliest dog I think I have ever met. When he meets another person or dog he just wiggles his body like crazy and then likes to greet the person by jumping up on them. It’s lovely and not embarrassing at all. Kidding!!! Jumping on people is one of the behaviors that Alex and I have been working on since the first day we got him. He rarely jumps on us because we have no tolerance for it, but I think he was reinforced so many times by people thinking he was so cute that it taught him that it was ok to jump on other people. We are going to be focusing on this in tomorrow’s training session, but we have already begun working on it a little bit.
It sure takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work to raise a puppy into a nice, well-behaved dog. We are absolutely committed to that and are enjoying working with Jackson on basic commands and our training regimen. We are so lucky to have such a bright, smart dog and the last month has really solidified his spot in our home.