Jan 12

TAG, that's it!

T.A.G.!  That's It!

T.A.G. is an acronym that I have used in past seminars and workshops, to help dog owners remember the things I find most basic when training any dog, or thinking through how to solve any behavior problem. Everyone over the age of thirty probably remembers this fun game (tag) from their childhood. We all used to play it on the school playground at recess each day, so it is an easy word to remember.

Pictured below is my lovely friend Pam Gaynor (standing), with me and her beautiful plush coated Shepherd, Elka. Pam did a wonderful job of including every element of TAG in her training of Elka. Let's do a quick review of T A G, so that you can also use it when training your dog.

T stands for tailoring the tools and techniques to fit your individual dog's temperament.  We aren't going to be successful if we try to put every dog into the same paradigm. We must learn to read dogs, each individual dog, to decide the best way to bond with them, and get them to work for us. Pam's German Shepherd was trained differently than my Standard Poodle Lizzie, whom we were training at the same time.

A stands for affection and authority.  Each dog needs a unique blend of affection and authority, love and leadership, in order for him to develop a bond based on trust and respect.  The "softer" dog may need more affection in order to build his trust (see our little ebook entitled The Bond Between Us Begins with Understanding and also Dogs Have Love Languages (too) ) while the more strong-willed dog may need more emphasis on understanding your authority and leadership.

Ask any school teacher and she will tell you that children are much the same in this respect, some are naturally compliant, while others are going to misbehave the second the teacher turns her back. Some dogs are naturally compliant, while others seem to be status seekers that will try to take over if they don't sense that someone very capable is in a leadership position over them. Need help with helping your dog understand leadership?  In the affordable, easy-to-read ebook entitled Follow the Leader...How to Use Walking as a Behavioral Tool, we discuss how dogs understand leadership, and offer easy "how to" information on getting your dog to accept your leadership without a power struggle. Many times people do not realize that dogs think in terms of who controls the space, who can make you move...these things are much more important than what type of training collar or treat to use. This is not a sales piece, but if you are having problems with your dogs,  I guarantee you that you will enjoy and benefit from nvesting 9.97 to purchase this dog ebook (just click on Follow the Leader to go to a page where you can purchase and download it within minutes).

G , the God Factor. There is an almost mystical quality seen when a person learns how to love a dog in the way a dog can understand, and also when a dog senses that he is loved and accepted. This relationship is so special that it is hard for me to put in words, so for lack of a better word, I am going to call it "the God factor".  When you see the acronym T.A.G., just remember that the G stands for what God has put into the picture. I could write a whole book on the God factor, because I have both seen for myself, and heard from many clients, stories of dogs who may have been angels in disguise. Stories of how people became so discouraged they thought they simply could not go on in this life, but the love of their dog, or the fact that their dog needed them, helped them keep going. God seems to have put the ability to love unconditionally in many canine creations. Occasionally we will also see negative spiritual forces at play. For now, just remember that dogs are endowed with certain qualities just from the moment they are created, and their Creator does care about them, and will hear your prayers when you need to go to Him for wisdom about your dog.

Let's just quickly recap T.A.G. Then if you are working with a dog and something is not going quite right, you can think "TAG" and go through the list to make sure you have touched on all 3 of these important aspects.

The T is just a reminder to stay away from trying to stick every dog in the same box. Take the time to figure out the dog's individual temperament, and use training techniques and tools that will work best for that individual dog.

A is for affection and authority, which I often refer to as love and leadership. All dogs need to understand both our affection (explained in our ebook entitled Dogs Have Love Languages Too) and our authority  (explained thoroughly in Follow the Leader...How to Use Walking as a Behavioral Tool).   Love and leadership are not two separate things, because one important way to express our love for our dogs is by being protective leaders over them.

And lastly, the big G...the God factor, never to be forgotten. This has nothing to do with your religion or lack of it. I don't want you to forget the G, because the original creator of the canine obviously designed this particular animal to be capable of having a very special relationship with man. Many of us will never truly understand "unconditional love" since it is sometimes very difficult for human beings to offer. But once a dog feels loved by their "person", it seems very easy for a dog to exhibit this type of love to us.  Aren't dogs wonderful?

Questions or comments?  Please take a moment to leave a comment--your feedback is my motivation to keep writing and sharing with you!

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