Off-leash, calm, and in an open field?! Finn used to be a runner. How did we get here? Leadership. People always ask, “Well, what does that really mean? What does that look like?” It means being a calm, steadfast, consistent, confident and clear supporter for your dog in every area of his life. It means teaching him how to physically and mentally be still in any environment and to look to you for guidance. It means providing the kind of love that teaches your dog how to be comfortable and unconcerned about the world by clearly communicating what behaviors and responses are acceptable and what behaviors and responses are not. It means loving him by rewarding when he’s doing well and correcting him when he makes a mistake. Being fair, being relevant, being someone he respects and wants to listen to because you know his boundaries and limitations and will advocate to keep him safe but challenge him to trust you in situations that stretch his comfort zone.

This is why just focusing on sit, down, stay and come are not enough. Finn can do all of those things but he wouldn’t be able to settle his mind if I didn’t put in the work to form a solid relationship and work on his state of mind- he needs to trust me enough to defer to me before he acts, not because he is forced to, but because it is in his best interest to do so.

Focus on the hard stuff folks, training a dog is easy but working on a dog’s state of mind takes time especially if he has years of bad habits under his belt. Also, perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t beat yourself up if your dog still has some quirks. Love the dog you have and work with it, and be sure to contact Lupa K9 for quality dog training in San Francisco if you feel like you need some assistance.