Everyone knows what a dog is. But is a Bassett Hound the same as a German Shepherd? It would be interesting if that were true. That dogs that looked different on the outside but behaved the same on the inside. Unfortunately it’s just not that simple and we should set our expectations accordingly.
Modern dog training has brought us some new views and new approaches to training. Some of what we do these days is just a refined version of things we have been doing for a long time. That’s why I think it’s important to understand “shaping” versus “prompting” in dog training. Both have their merits and their pitfalls and we should be well prepared no matter how we decide to train!
Each year thousands of dogs are surrendered to shelters and rescue organizations around the world. It’s a shame that this happens but I am thankful for the thousands of staff and volunteers at shelters and rescue organizations that take in, care for, rehabilitate, and hopefully re-home these dogs. It is an incredibly difficult job but things are getting better for shelter workers. They are having more success than ever before and that’s good for the dogs!
All dogs have their limits. Some are good and some are bad. Things can be too scary. Things can be not interesting enough. And other things are just right for our dogs. If we learn to see and understand our dog’s “thresholds” for their various responses to things, it can open up a whole new world of opportunities to help them learn.
Dog people can be passionate. Coming to a new and deeper understanding of dogs and training can be a profound experience. If we are careful, our advocacy for working with dogs becomes a dogma. It’s important to focus on doing better for our dogs and not get hung up on all the “wrong” ways of working with dogs.
Dogs are both wonderfully simple creatures and yet very capable of learning very complex behaviours and concepts. But do we sometimes expect more of them than we should? They don’t think like humans even though the seem to understand us very well. Sometimes it’s best to break things down for them and keep it “Dog Simple.”