It always amazes me when I see dogs who have no manner training once so ever. The struggle to find a happy place in a home when you have no training is a difficult one. There are times when I can say something and times when I cannot. If I am called to someone's home as a trainer then I can say all I want; but often I am there for a photo shoot and at that point I just smile. It is difficult to watch a guardian struggle with their dog knowing how quickly behaviors can be turned around.
One of the most common behaviors is food stealing or counter surfing which to me are two very unacceptable behaviors. First let's set the record straight; dogs will be dogs and if you leave food unattended for a long enough period of time there is a good chance it's not going to be there when you get back. I do not expect dogs to be saints but I do expect them to be well behaved and have some sort of house manners. When I do see a dog who does not exhibit manners; I look to the guardian. I put no blame on the dog for not having manners; dogs come with dog manners which are not in anyway human manners.
I believe all dogs deserve an education; what I expect as a minimum for a dog to be taught:
- to know their name (amazingly many dogs don't)
- come when called
- sit, down, stay and leave it
- how to act in the house: no stealing food, jumping on tables, using the house as a bathroom etc.
By teaching a dog a few verbal cues you can then communicate more easily. Communication is also achieved with the use of body language; it is amazing what you can say with your body. But you must have a good basis for your dog to "get" your body language. If you have never used it before it may take a while for your dog to pay attention to it. Your dog will have to relearn to watch you if this is new for you; more than likely have completely confused your dogs with mixed messages to this point.
Having a dog living in your home is a wonderful thing once they understand and follow a few simple rules. We follow rules on a daily basis; our dogs need to do the same.