Google dog training methods and you will be greeted with
hundreds if not thousands of pages of training advice. That’s a good thing you would think, however it doesn’t take long before you realise many websites and the advice therein contradicts the advice
and techniques given on other websites. There are so many different opinions, beliefs, preferences and this only creates confusion and frustration to the reader. I know this only too well as that is
how I felt during my first six months of theory studying!
Below are some brief
descriptions of some of the training methods.
I don't know the correct
terminology for this method but I call it the Bullying Technique. This is where fear and intimidation is used to force the dog into a behaviour e.g. shouting and / or hitting, or the threat of
hitting. Its not surprising this method is used on dogs as we use it against each other and see it all the time in schools, in the workplace, on the streets and if you are unlucky, even in your own
home. If we are so unbalanced that we use it against each other then it is no surprise we will use it on our pets.
Traditional Training - Made
famous by Barbara Woodhouse and uses a physical correction to train the dog e.g. to make a dog sit, a jerk on a choke chain and / or pushing down on the rump is used. On completion of the desired
behaviour the dog is rewarded with a positive 'good dog'.
Dog Whispering - Made famous by
Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer TV show), this method is all about the human becoming the right kind of leader. Using a calm, assertive (confident) approach, this technique requires understanding of
dog psychology and body language and uses the strategies dogs use amongst themselves. Done correctly just your body language and presence can alter a dogs
Reward / Motivation Training -
A positive reinforcement method where you find what motivates the dog and use that as a training tool. This could be a toy, a particular food or simply your voice (some dogs respond to a low voice
others to a higher pitched voice).
Clicker Training - A device
known as a clicker is used to 'mark' desired behaviour and can be used to train a variety of behaviours. The origin of this method dates back over 50 years to the training of dolphins and orcas but
instead of using a clicker, a whistle was used to 'mark' desired behaviours. Today clickers are being used to train a variety of animals including dogs, cats, zoo animals and even autistic
All of the above methods work
to some degree and practitioners of each method will often claim that their technique works on every dog. In my experience this is simply not true. I have been fortunate to have worked with (and
seen) trainers and behaviourists, many accredited with very well known dog training and behaviour organisations, fail many dogs, claiming because the dog didn't respond to the technique they use,
there was nothing that could be done for the dog, so it would be best if the dog was put to sleep. Or some trainers and behaviourists advice to clients is to simply avoid certain situations as the
dog cannot be trained.
In my years working with dogs,
one aspect has become very clear - dogs are easy to work with (although there will always be the odd exception!) it is the humans around the dog that are the challenge. This in itself is not
surprising as peoples perceptions are completely subjective. Everyone has different outlooks, goals, priorities in life. And because of this some people like to be greeted by their dog jumping up on
them, some people like to be walked by their dogs as the walk, in the mind of the owner, is for their dog to be free to sniff anything and everything. Some people think it is normal for their dog to
charge madly off leash around a field for an hour, charging up to every other dog and rudely invading the other dogs space, whilst the owner shouts across the field ‘He’s only being friendly, he
won’t bite’. Everyone has different priorities and the dog unfortunately is usually quite far down the list! That is why I believe it is the human that needs educating, not the
To me the priority, the
absolute most critical factor is gaining trust and respect, that should always come first. Without trust and respect you don’t have a solid relationship. And this is achieved by how we interact with
the dog, the rules and boundaries we set and how consistent (and at times patient) we are. This is done primarily by using body language and tone, simple as that. Why body language and tone? Because
that is how all animals have communicated for millions of years, it’s instinctual to all animals. Only now humans, in their infinite wisdom, believe it is be more beneficial and powerful than
instincts to use speech (we do tend to like the sound of our own voices) and treat, treat, treats.
I’m not saying not to use
treats as I do use treats when obedience training or trick training but this should come secondary to gaining trust and respect. Otherwise, and I see this all the time, dogs will only pay attention
to their owners when they rustle a bag of treats. Is that trust and respect when your dog only listens to you if you offer it a treat? By forming an instinctual relationship first, when you do
obedience training, which should be fun, engaging and exciting for both you and your dog, this only reinforces and strengthens the
Ironically, if you interact
instinctively your dog you don’t need to teach basic obedience like sit, wait, follow as the dog already instinctively knows
If you want, desire, crave that
special relationship with your dog where your dog is calm, balanced and in tune with you and listens to you because of you and not because of something you have, then make the decision to change your
situation now, it is never too late. Or, if you have tried trainers or behaviourists before and haven’t seen the results you hoped for, as along as you are committed to change, then I can help, so
contact me now.
Contact me now on 07950253669
Surrey Dog Behaviour
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and your dog
Patience and consistency whilst
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