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All family members should be on the same page

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

old couple on bench with small dogI hear this all the time from clients: "Jake listens to me, but not to my wife."

Or vice versa.

In a multi-adult household, it often happens that one person projects the right attitude and says and does all the right things, while another person does not.

Accordingly, the puppy respects one person, but not the other.

If you're the only one working with the pup, the only one with the calm self-confident attitude, the only one following my training program consistently,  your puppy will listen to you but not necessarily to your spouse and kids.

Dogs aren't robots that can be programmed to obey anyone who says the magic words. It's not the WORDS that cause a dog to listen to you and do what you want.

It's the proper leader-follower relationship that causes a dog to listen and do what you want.

It's important for ALL of the adults in the household to build the right leader-follower relationship with the puppy.

Your dog wants black and white rules and routines.

Suppose you and your spouse allow different behaviors. You  chase the puppy off the sofa but pat your thighs to invite him to jump on you. Your spouse  lets the puppy remain on the sofa but scolds him for jumping on her.

There might even be a third family member, or a housekeeper, or even the folks at doggy daycare, who won't correct the puppy for anything.

scrollThese inconsistencies need to stop. At least during the first couple of years working with your puppy, there should be no "maybes" or "sometimes."

When a dog is more mature and well-behaved, of course you can relax rules. I do that all the time with my adult dogs. But not the first couple of years, when building solid, dependable routines is so essential.

You may think you're being nice by being "flexible" about what your pup is allowed to do. Your puppy, on the other hand, pegs you as indecisive.  Now he feels anxious, uncertain, and compelled to second-guess your decisions and test your rules to find out which ones are real and which ones are up for grabs.

Dogs feel most secure when their world is "always this" and "always that." Consistent, predictable, black and white. Young dogs, in particular, do not do well with gray   areas.

So if mixed messages are happening in your pup's life, sort it out quickly. Get everyone on board with the same training program, or else keep your puppy away from people who are (even unintentionally) undermining it. Your pup will appreciate that!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.