We often see dogs that although being cooed over, petted or fed treats, still seem miserable while being “trained.” Positive motivation can be a tricky thing.
Dog training (dog learning) should not take on the flavor of a boring chore for the dog or handler. Some trainers will tell you to train early in the morning before you feed them, while others will tell you to train your dog only for 10-15 minutes maximum. The reasoning behind those approaches has to do primarily with ones ability to attain and hold the dogs attention more than anything else.
Below is a video of me with my dog “Gia”. She is a young rescue who was in pretty rough shape when I got her. This video was filmed in Delware Park and depicts a typical training session together. Notice that I always have a toy in my hand, and I give her frequent breaks to release her drive and play with that toy.
At K-9 Connectionwe are teaching and reinforcing commands to our dogs around the clock. We teach (train) as we live, just like raising children. As parents we could not possibly take three 20 minute sessions a day to raise them, although some of us might like that program, but at that rate we might be raising them well into their 30’s and there goes retirement fun. Sure there are times when we focus on just learning one skill, but the most impacting agenda is for the dog to be comprehensive in the Dog Training Language.
We teach them a whole new language of communication that will enable you as the handler to have control of your dog at distances. This in turn, gives your dog more freedom. It is simple math in that proper repetition, breeds consistent behavior patterns. We aim to use every opportunity to mark a behavior, even for example if it is only for two seconds in a “place” for a puppy, or an advanced skill, like a remote down.
The main goal for any training method is to attain and hold the dog’s attention. Whether it is food, leash and collar, flat, prong, choke or remote collar. While all methods are all on an even playing field, ours is an exception to the rule since we can communicate and control our dog’s at distances. It should be noted that any punishment and intimidation comes from the handler, not the tool.
Like anything in life, no single person or dog for that matter, is ever punished into excellence. Our goal is to generate a happy well mannered dog. With that in mind, we strive for beginning and ending interactions on a high note.
You can give your dog treats and “good boy’s” all day long, but if your voice is flat and your body language is stiff, then within a matter minutes of interacting with your dog, there is a high probability of your dog mirroring that tone you have set, making the learning arena, less than exciting for the dog. There is tremendous value in tuning into your dogs drive levels. For example very high energy toy motivated dogs, need to be toned down a bit and flat dogs need a bigger dose of the handlers upbeat attitude. The handler should always be engaged and having fun, but at the same time, keenly aware to keep things in balance.