Dog trainers are often consulted by owners who feel frustrated or need help. These owners report that their dog exhibits the following behaviors and training problems:
Does not know how to walk on a lead! Jumps all over guests!
Of course, we trainers have detailed behavior-modification dog training plans for all of those things. This is my all-purpose, magical tip.
Imagine you are a tiger and not a dog.
Expectations are the key to dog training, just like everything else in life. Any training program you attempt will be ruined if you aren’t in the right mindset. Your greatest advantage in creating a happy home for your dog and yourself is to have the right mindset. This is where the tiger exercise comes into play.
What Would You Do if This Was a Tiger?
It is not normal for a tiger and human to instantly blend in. Adopting a tiger would require you to work hard and be respectful of the fact that it is not the tiger’s natural environment. Instead of getting angry about a shoe that was chewed, you would be happy it wasn’t worse and remind yourself to be more tiger-proof the next time. Dreamstime.com.
Now close your eyes. Now, think about the last time you had to deal with your dog. Adjust your visualization and imagine your dog as a tiger that you brought into your home.
How would that tiger change your reaction to it? It’s possible that you’d feel less crazy and your thoughts would shift in this way:
He doesn’t know how to walk on a leash.
“He doesn’t!” Given how strange this is for him, it’s incredible that we are out and about together.
She chews every shoe of ours.
“Good Lord, we left our shoes where the tigers could find them!”
He leaps on guests.
“How could we have missed that the tiger was in such a ridiculous situation? A tiger’s greeting style is completely unlike any we humans would like to see?”
She barks at dogs wildly.
“It is natural for her to have strong feelings about other animals. We should guide her through the experience before she becomes a passive observer.
He chases after the cat.
“Why did we allow these two species to interact and meet without supervision?”
Do not expect a dog to know our human ways.
Your dog is not a tiger. However, all of the empathy you would have for a tiger’s behavior is perfectly appropriate for a dog. Dogs are an entirely different animal species, just like captive tigers. They’re trying to adapt to human life. Expectations that dogs should be able to seamlessly integrate into our lives, like Lassie, are not only absurd but also dangerous.
It is important to remind everyone (and yourself) that there is a tiger living in your house. You should treat a tiger as serious business.
You will be proactive and help the animal succeed.
You will need to be very careful about how you manage guests.
You will work hard to tigerproof your house.
Expect to be “on duty”, when children or animals are present.
This will make it clear how bizarre this all is for a creature that’s not in its native habitat. So you can expect bumps along the way.
Realizing that your tiger is missing out on the benefits of being out in nature, you will think like a good Zookeeper. “How can I best meet the needs this captive animal who was not designed to be Netflix-ed?”
How your Tiger becomes the Best Dog
The mental switch from dog-to-tiger can make owners more intelligent, kinder and more open to solving problems. You may be surprised at the results of this kind of nurturing after a while. It transforms the tiger into a companion dog.
Owners will still reap the benefits of a good trainer and a dog behavior modification program, provided they have the right mindset. The best trainer in the land can’t help you if you have unrealistic expectations about another species that has landed in your home.
You can train your dog to behave better as a dog by pretending that he is a whole Tiger