An Infusion of Ideas And The Realization Of Goals
Think of dog training as steps on a ladder, one can not reach the top, without the subsequent steps below it. If you want your dog to have a reliable come/recall then you must work on the manners first. If your dog won’t come to you, just because another dog is in view than the “come” command isn’t worth a hill of beans. Being able to focus in the thick of distractions is a must to achieve reliable commands, and to achieve proper focus, a handler/dog team must be able to obtain loose leash around distractions. Since training is a step process, don’t be surprised if we are to say we can’t do that right now, we have a few things we must tackle first.
At first, make the challenge easy to overcome, after each success, increase the difficulty. Be realistic on how fast your dog can progress, as some dogs learn fast and with some you need to take a slower approach (keep in mind that the dog’s intelligence plays little to no factor in how fast they learn). Proper handling is about; a quiet confidence, realistic expectations, loose leash, and the exclusion of any negative emotions, all things essential for each of the steps in dog training. When the endeavor of training is first undertaken, write out a list of goals, have an ultimate goal and have smaller, faster achievable goals that will keep you moving in the right direction. Don’t be distracted from your ultimate goal, there will be time to branch out later and teach new, exciting things.
Let the journey, that is training, be a fun game that both you and your dog look forward too, rather than a chore that must get done. Be confident that you will reach your goals, no matter if it’s dealing with aggression or just getting a reliable “sit” command, take pride in each step taken in the right direction. Proper dog training is about having a mix of different philosophies, it’s not about one style but an infusion of psychology and different training techniques, that allows us to quickly navigate the tricky wicket of balancing the relationships between dogs and people. When a client first seeks a trainer, they will often ask us about our training philosophy. Our answer; we use operant conditioning, classical conditioning, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement (this just means to withhold treats until the proper position or behavior is shown), and marking (often times called clicker training, although we use our voice, “good boy” for instance, to mark the proper behavior, instead of using a clicker tool) in our training. Only through this blending of different systems and ideals can we have a fun experience with obvious improvements in behavior and the dog/human relationship.
What sets us apart from other dog trainers is the amount of techniques that we use and the timing in which we apply them. Think of dog training as you would a carpenter, anyone can have a hammer and saw, and call themselves a carpenter but their workmanship will never matchup to the graceful creations of a true master with a full tool box, and the knowledge of when and how to use them. Our approach is always one of a teacher, and our view of our dog is that of a unique human/animal friendship. You don’t need to have a “magical” ability to work with dogs, there’s no such thing anyway, only the proper knowledge and technique is required to better your relationship with your canine. It’s never too late to forge a better understanding of Canis lupus familiaris and the unique symbiotic friendship that we have formed with them, learning how to better communicate with our furry partner in the process.
– Josh Decker, Dog Trainer
Article written by Josh Decker