One of my favorite expressions in dog training is: “The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is what the third one is doing wrong.” It’s absolutely true. Rarely do two dog trainers see perfectly eye to eye on anything dog-related. This is a profession where opinions rule, and experience trumps facts. Why? Because while there is absolutely a science behind dog training, each dog has their own quirks and temperaments (and so do the people on the other end of the leash). What works for one owner/dog combo won’t necessarily work for another.
I know that there is a good chance you have read other blogs or books, worked with other trainers, or perhaps you have some dog training experience of your own. You may arrive at this blog with preconceived notions, or anecdotal evidence for one method over another. I ask you to keep an open mind. My goal in writing this blog isn’t only to give you instructions on training your dog, but also to explain the reasoning behind the advice I give. I learned early on in my career as a dog trainer that teaching the dogs was the easy part…getting the owners to stay on track was where I had to focus much of my energy. Over the years, I have come to believe that explaining the reasoning behind the training techniques I suggest makes a significant difference in the overall success of the training. Not only does it keep people motivated to continue the training, but it also acknowledges the primary role the owners have in the behavior of their dog.
As a trainer, it is my job to teach you to teach your dog. Sure, you could give me your dog for a couple of weeks, and I can train her. I can return a very well-mannered dog to your front door and tell you what to do or say to get her to perform an action. For a couple of days, maybe even a couple of weeks, you’d have a companion who does everything you ask. However, your dog is very quickly going to realize that the rules don’t apply with you the way they did with me.
Dogs aren’t computers…they don’t get programmed and stay that way until the next update. They are living, thoughtful, intelligent beings…and they always do what is in their best interests (this is “dog logic” in a nutshell). And let’s face it…sometimes what’s good for the dog isn’t good for the owners. For example: Fido sees a steak thawing on a kitchen counter. It’s in Fido’s best interest to grab that steak and scarf it down while you’re taking out the trash. This works out well for the pooch, but it looks like you’re having fish sticks for dinner. The trick is to make the dog think that leaving the steak alone is a better idea.
I believe that if I can show you the logic behind the advice I give, you will become a more effective trainer. Not only will you be more consistent in your training, but you will also be better equipped to handle other issues that come along in the course of your life with dogs. In addition, I believe your relationship with your dog will improve, no matter how great (or horrible) it is to begin with. Mutual respect and clear communication are vital to any relationship’s strength.
This blog will address common training and behavioral problems with pet dogs, as well as the occasional philosophical rambling, or opinion on health-related topics. I welcome any input! If something doesn’t make sense to you then I am not doing my job…so please let me know. Also, if you’d like me to cover a topic, send me a message or leave a comment.
I’m writing this with owners of pet dogs in mind…this isn’t a blog for designed for protection training, service dog training, competition dogs, etc. I’m going to try to avoid bogging things down with too much terminology, and with any luck, I’ll be able to throw some humor in as well. I’ll link to other articles to provide more information on certain subjects for those of you are interested, and you can also check through the blogs tags for more posts containing a particular subject.
Please feel free to share this blog or any posts, but I’d appreciate it if you’d include a link to the blog when you do.
Ultimately, this blog is written in the hopes of making dogs and people happier in each other’s company. Whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, one dog or five, a pure-bred dog or a rescued mixed breed, I hope the answers you find in this blog will prompt you to become a more thoughtful, practical, and logical trainer.