We expect our dogs to adapt to us, to put up with everything and to always know what we want from them. Most four-legged friends do their best to fulfil this expectation, but sometimes we don’t make it easy for them. It is very difficult for our dogs to know what is expected of them if we do not communicate clearly and predictable with them. You can find out how to do this here.
Why should I act predictably?
Predictability is about announcing an event to the dog. The dog can adjust to it and is not suddenly surprised by it. This clarity contributes to relaxation and helps dogs, especially anxious and stressed dogs, to cope with everyday life.
Clarity is also good for the relationship between man and dog. Your dog can rely on you and knows what to expect.
Wrong expectations in the dog
We often expect our four-legged friends to be able to do things that they have simply never learned properly or that they cannot show in a situation. Dogs usually adapt well to us humans. Yet it would only be fair to them to be able to assess the situation.
If we always change our mind or say things that we mean differently, it is difficult for our dogs to assess us. This often leads to misunderstandings and we get angry about the “wrong” behaviour of our four-legged friend. But it’s usually not the dog’s fault. It is up to us to make our dog understand what we want from him. Do you sometimes have the feeling that your dog does not follow? Then read the article “Help, my dog doesn’t listen“.
How can I be predictable for my dog?
In principle, it is good to have a reasonably regular daily routine. That way, the dog knows roughly when it’s time to eat, when it’s time to go outside and when it’s time to rest. Rules that your dog can follow are also very important. Think about which rules are important to you and be consistent. If your dog is allowed to go to bed today and not tomorrow, it is the opposite of predictability, i.e. your pet becomes unsure and does not know what is right and what is wrong.
So act in a predictable and assessable way for your dog. Be mindful and pay attention to what your dog needs or wants.
Signals for announcing
A dog that knows what is coming and is allowed to decide whether he wants it or not is much more cooperative. He has learned that it is worth trusting you and cooperating.
Teach him positively the signals that tell him something is coming. He should learn that it is ok and nothing bad will happen. Give your dog the time he needs and teach him the signals step by step. By giving the right reward, your dog will look forward to you giving the signal in the future.
For example, you could simply pull the chest harness over your dog’s head, possibly leaning over him in a threatening manner. Your dog will probably not like this and start the walk stressed or even hide from the harness. However, you could also slowly teach him to put his head through the harness on his own and link this to a signal, such as “tighten”. This way your dog will know in the future that the chest harness comes over his head when you say “tighten” and he can even do something himself. He will look forward to it and be more relaxed when he goes for a walk.
Tips on predictability:
– Let your dog know what you are going to do!
– Warn your pet when a scary or painful situation is about to happen.
– Always be there for him. (Offer protection, avert danger, avoid unpleasant situations).
– Stick to a structured daily routine and rituals.
– Be predictable. (When you say A, A should happen/mean and not B).
Examples of predictable actions:
– Teach him signals for everyday actions. For example, putting on or taking off the chest harness, announcing a change of direction on a walk, announcing when you want to pick him up, etc.
– Say “Watch out” to your dog before he gets frightened. For example, if a fellow dog runs up behind him, if a lorry is about to pass, if you touch him, if the vet gives him an injection etc.
– Walk your dog with foresight. Do not put your dog in situations that are uncomfortable for him. Offer him protection if he is afraid and stand in front of him if he is in danger.
– Introduce rituals. For example, your dog gets a chew stick after the big walk, there is relaxing music when he is left alone, the main meals are offered at about the same time, there is a cuddle for half an hour in the morning, etc.
– Before you say something, think about whether you mean it and whether your dog can put it into practice. For example, if you say “turn around” as an announcement of a change of direction, you should not just go straight on.
Being predictable for the dog creates a lot of security and strengthens the trust and bond with you. Especially in situations that your dog doesn’t like, it is important to announce your actions so that he doesn’t get scared. Most dogs are much more cooperative and relaxed this way.