Understanding Dog Training
One of the most misunderstood aspects of dog training is that the trainer is teach both you, and your dog, a series of problem solving tasks.
At one time trainers felt that the owner could start an activity. If the dog didn’t understand it was punished. Ultimately the dog would ‘figure it out’ and then there would be harmony. This caused several problems. The most obvious was that the dog shut down emotionally and frustration built up. Eventually one day the leash was off, the dog was far enough away from the owner it felt free, and then all control was lost.
Trainers eventually learned that it was better to create a series of scenarios where the dog learned to ‘choose’ to do the task it was asked. When the dog makes the choice to obey, and that choice fulfills a basic need (play or food) then the reinforcer increases the likelihood of the behavior continuing. This type of training works even when the dog has broken free and run, or is just in a bad mood.
The positive dog training method also allows the dog the opportunity to make choices and say no. The owner doesn’t always need to comply and allow the dog to act on its choice. But in many cases dog bites and other behavior problems are avoided. The owner sees the dog say ‘I do not like this child smacking my face.’ The dog has learned it can go to a safe place. Both the dog and the child are spared.
Training at My House vs Dog Training at a Center
Training at your house is possible. But it is not always best. The dog has already learned a specific behavior and a set of rules it can ‘get away with.’
Taking a dog to a sterile environment where it has no history puts both the dog and handler on even ground. It allows the opportunity to train new behaviors without any ‘masking’ or frustration caused by events the trainer is unaware of.
The dog cannot mask reactions when it is in a new environment. The dog trainer sees how the dog reacts to strange situations, people, and stress.
Training my Dog vs Training the Owner
One of the most common questions asked is, ‘why do I need to learn? Why don’t you just train my dog?’ The answer is simple. If I teach your dog a series of cues and commands, then you need to understand those cues to be able to understand your dog.
Behind every perfectly obedient dog is hundreds of hours of training. Teaching a dog is like teaching a child. There are developmental stages. There are emotions, wants, and needs. There is confusion and frustration. All of these need to be managed. When you look at an owner with a perfectly trained dog then you are looking at a well-practiced ‘team’ effort.
Repetition of Good Behavior = Obedience
The more you put into training the more you will get out of it. Dogs cannot be neglected without developing frustration and emotional problems. It is this stress that results in bad behavior. Obedience training will not correct bad behavior. In fact, the average obedience class may compound the ‘stressors’ increasing the likelihood of more bad behavior.
One of the most important parts of dog training is to help the dog learn to deal with stress.
If you want a well behaved dog you need to spend time training it. It won’t just happen in class, one hour a week. Obedience needs to become a lifestyle.
Self Control = Obedience
When it comes right down to it, dog training is nothing more than helping a dog learn self-control. Both the handler and the dog must learn self-control.