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!
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!
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.
Anyone who has let their dogs have a good run around knows just how agile dog are. Whether they are romping through the woods, narrowly avoiding collisions at the dog park, or playing the sport of dog agility, dogs seem to be masters of the running/jumping/turning thing. It doesn’t take much effort to teach them to use their powers for “good” on an agility course.
There is an old saying something like, “A good craftsman never blames his tools.” Likewise, it’s important that we never give credit to our tools for good work either. Dog training is an interactive process and as your dog’s trainer, you are responsible for creating a good relationship in which your dog can learn. Choose your tools wisely and learn to use them well!
Teaching our dogs to do things can be great fun. But teaching them to NOT do things can be just as important. Taking a proactive approach to teaching our dogs when it’s time to settle can be much more productive and rewarding than interrupting or scolding them. It’s remarkably easy and can make for happier dogs!