"Properly trained, man can be a dog's best friend" ~ Corey Ford
In my job as a dog trainer, I often meet dogs that has very little or close to none impulse control, which is what also often gets them in trouble: Jumping, counter surfer, darting out of open doors, pull on leash and just often being in an aroused and excited state, which is stressful to both the dog as well as its humans. When a dog is aroused and excited, they often become more reactive and is harder to connect with. Almost like a toddler having a tantrum: you cannot communicate with a toddler until he/she has calmed down. And just like with dogs, you can not communicate or train a dog unless it is in a calm state of mind. So I think we can all agree that we would like a calm dog. But even though dogs are born with different tempers and therefore some gets more easily excited than others, many owners have unintendedly reinforced this excitement and therefore the part to blame for this. You see, dogs do what works for them. When their behavior gets reinforced, and gets them what they want, they will continue.
As an example, where many dog owners unintendedly reinforces the excitement, is when they are getting ready for a walk: When the leash comes out, the dog knows it means "go for a walk". He gets excited by the anticipation and the leash comes on. He gets even more excited, unable to control his excitement he might jump on his owner. The door opens and he gets out to do his favorite thing: walk, run and sniff. BAM, he just got rewarded for jumping around and being "crazy". When dogs are continually being reinforced for "bad" behavior, we the people are setting them up for failure by not teaching them the tools they need to have in order to live a less stressful life with us in our human world filled with our human rules. They are more likely to have negative encounters with other dogs and people, due to jumping, pulling on leash, and so on. A calm dog will have a lot more positive encounters, will be allowed and able to go more places with its owners and is simply more enjoyable.
So how do we teach our dogs to be more calm? Simple - we only reward calm behavior!!!
So next time the leash comes out, it will not get on the dog until he sits down calmly. The door will not open until he sits down calmly. No negative words are necessary, just patience. Wait until he gives you the wanted behavior, acknowledge it with calm verbal praise and proceed moving forward. There are many program and video available on the internet, to help you teach the dog how to stay calm. Google Sophia Yin and her "Learn to earn" program. She has many video available about sitting to say please and settle on/off. Google Susan Garrett and her "Its yer choice" training videos. Google Zak George and his many videos on YouTube helping dog owners with issues such as barking and jumping - all based on positive interactions between handler and dog.
My point is, next time your dog acts in a way that causes you frustration, stop and think about whether you might be the reason for it.
As a dog trainer and animal lover, my wish is to help educate the owners, so they can have a harmonious relationship with the animal(s) in their lives. A relationship based on knowledge, trust and respect.