The best explanations in the world are sometimes not enough to help people with their dogs. Even if the full weight of science and evidence is correct, people still have to use that information with their dogs. Sometimes the best thing to do is to show them rather than tell them.
Canine Nation is a series of essays by Eric Brad CPDT-KA, a certified professional dog trainer. He writes about living with dogs. Canine Nation is about discovering what is TRUE about dogs and discarding centuries of myth and folklore about we train and work with our dogs. It’s about challenging what we think we know and asking the dogs to tell us what’s real. It’s about giving science, scientific method, and collected data more credibility than hearsay, anecdotes, and the authoritative assertions of self-proclaimed “experts” about dogs.
Canine Nation Podcasts are also available HERE!
We’re supposed to be interesting to our dogs. We live with them. But when it comes to training, it can be a challenge to keep them interested and engaged. Here are a few unconventional tips to help you keep your dog eager to learn and play for many years to come!
It can be hard to keep our dog’s attention during training. But it can be easier to keep our dog engaged if we plan for shorter sessions, short breaks and letting them know when the training is starting and when it’s done. I’ve learned in my own experience that confusion and ambiguity about what’s happening next can be tiring. Why should it be different for my dogs?
Imagine being a dog and working with three different dog trainers. Each has their own style and agenda. Imagine that these three trainers could show up at any time and might change places abruptly. Now imagine that all three trainers are YOU and you must juggle your priorities and goals in real time. Amazingly, we do it every single day. Here’s hoping we can all do it well!
There is nothing quite like that feeling when you teach your dog something and they finally “get it!” That is, until you realize that you only THOUGHT they got it. Then you have to go about trying to figure out what they learned instead and then help them unlearn it. There are lots of ways to teach your dog. But only if you are observant enough to see what they are learning!
Dog training is evolving rapidly. Some in the dog community feel that we need to actively prohibit the use of training equipment like electronic and prong collars. There are generations of habits and methods built up around these tools. How do we facilitate the transition to new methods without creating new problems? I think it’s a question we should be discussing.
I know how to fool a dog trainer. The one I fool the most is me! While it may seem simple, learning to teach a dog with clarity isn’t as easy as it sounds. The road is filled with misconceptions and misperceptions. Hopefully by sharing some of my mistakes, you can avoid making them yourself. Don’t let the dog trainer in you be fooled!
With literally dozens of ways to teach a dog to do the same behaviour, how do we choose the best way for us? It seems we often choose a method because “it works” for us. But what does that mean? It could be that the dog looks like it’s doing what we want. But is there more to it?
Nothing but time, the great healer of sadness, can take away the pain of losing a beloved dog. It is never easy to let go of a dog that has become so much a part of our lives. My heart goes out to all who are grieving the loss of a dear canine friend. They are with us for so short a time.
The greatest difficulty I have always had in improving how I live and work with my dogs has been my own attitudes and beliefs about dogs. Keeping an open mind and being willing to admit I’m wrong has allowed me to learn and grow. And that has benefited both me and my dogs.