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WHAT REALLY IS DOG TRAINING?


The more emails we get and the more people we talk to about their dogs, the more often we see a complete disconnect as to what dog training is and can do and ultimately what sharing a life with a dog looks like.


Pet dog training should more accurately be called 'dog education' in my opinion. The connotations for 'training' suggests there is an end goal which there may be but one where once achieved we can stop the training. This isn't true. It's similar to weight loss goals. It's almost cruel that once you hit a certain weight you then have to carry on avoiding all the tasty things you enjoyed before losing the weight otherwise you will go back to your old habits and the weight will pile back on.


The same is true for dog training. If you reach your a goal you have to maintain it. You can't simply stop doing the training and do what you did before otherwise the dog will fall back into their old habits as well.


Dog training is a life long education. Some dogs require more hands on work, others require more understanding and some will require more management to keep them and everyone else safe. It's a commitment.


It should be an agreement knowing that when you bring a dog into your life, you will have to consistently and continually educate them throughout their life especially during the early years.


We get daily emails with people reporting 'problem' behaviours from their {usually 6 - 24 month old} dog. The 'problems' are always predictable normal dog behaviours. Digging, barking, jumping, growling, running, pulling, biting to name just a few.


Our challenge as dog trainers isn't necessarily training the dogs - it's helping owners understand their dogs better and setting realistic expectations. And this isn't the owners fault.

Dog training is an unregulated industry and there is a lot of cruel optimism and guarantees that a lot of dog pros spout as a marketing strategy. Who doesn't want to hear that someone can guarantee and 'fix' their dog in one session?


Anything that sounds too good to be true, usually is and this is 100% the case with dog training. Dog training isn't so much about the dogs, it's much more about teaching humans how to understand and communicate with another species and this definitely cannot be achieved in one session. How many people have learned a new language in one session? Probably zero.


It's probably easier and even more accurate to think of pet dog training like this:


Instead of thinking you are doing the training to eventually reach a perfectly obedient dog, which takes a lot of time and is VERY, VERY hard to achieve (how many dog trainers could say their dogs behave perfectly all the time?)


<------ Like Adira here!


Think of it like you are doing the training to avoid the annoying or naughty stuff instead.


Whenever clients come to us wanting help it's because the dog is doing something they don't want them to be doing.


Once the dog has learned and practiced a behaviour for a long time that behaviour is stored nice and securely in their brains. Meaning it's learned. You can't unlearn the things you've learned.


It would be great if we could just forget all the bad stuff that enters into our brains. But that's not how it works. That's why people struggle with PTSD. If only they could just forget. We can't and nor can our dogs.


So training is there to help prevent those bad and naughty behaviours resurfacing a lot of the time. We're dealing with habits. And there is no objective definition for a 'well behaved dog'. The 'well behaved' part is a human construct. Usually we simply consider a lack of behaviour well behaved. Or even worse we consider a shut down, scared dog well behaved.


The amount of times we've been 'complimented' on how well behaved Sunny is to which we just smile and say 'she's just very scared'. It simply comes down to a complete lack of understanding. And again that's what we need to help owners with. What is dog training, how do we do it and what can we expect to achieve.


Dog training is about developing habits for both humans and dogs. Dogs are learning all the time. Not just during that 1 hour class that you attend.


Don't be one of those people that say 'they're great at training but as soon as we leave they drag me all over the place!'. We're educating them all the time. Just like kids. We can't expect them to do anything but behave like a dog. And if we don't like how they are behaving, that's where the training will come in to help.

 

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