Dog Training Cat Tip of the Day: Doing what is right instead of what feels good.
When it comes to dog behavior, their body language is an open book to explain if things we are doing are helping or hurting the situation.
For example, an over excited, wiggly puppy is likely to excitedely pee if we pay attention to him during that time. Instead, wait and ignore the puppy (including ZERO eye contact) until he has a moment to settle and put himself into a calmer state of mind. This is SOOOO hard for people, because the puppy is so cute and appears to want attention right then and right now (and of course humans want the satisfaction of getting to pet and snuggle the cute pup!). Waiting is hard, but pee is gross! Waiting and ignoring the puppy is the right thing to do, but not the first choice in what feels good to the human.
When a new person is around a nervous/ fearful dog, the WRONG thing to do is say "all dogs love me, I'm a dog person" and push your way into that dogs space. It feels good to think that nervous dog wants to be touched, and it often hurts people's feelings at the idea that a dog doesn't like them--so they will probably stick out their hand, bend down, lock eye contact, and say to the dog "It's OK!" while moving in to the dog's space. That is NOT OK. When a human does that, it's not to help the dog overcome their fears and make a friend--it's because petting dogs feel good to people and not being liked feels "bad." It's basically a super selfish move, that hurts the dog's trust in people and can even lead to bite or injury. Instead (just like with the excited puppy!) ignore the dog! Don't look at, touch, or acknowledge the dog--instead completely ignore it and see if it will come up to sniff and engage with you. It may or may not, but if it does come up to you--do not pet it! Petting is very personal and raw for a nervous dog and is NOT the right thing to do, but what makes a person feel good. You need to build lots of relationship with a nervous dog before they would find your affection rewarding.
Humans are creatures of satisfaction, and it's important that we respect the needs of others and find THAT more satisfying than petting all of the time. If we love dogs, we'll do what's right (for them) and not what feels good (for us)! -Cenicero, #dogtrainingcat