I encounter many clients who have dogs that are trained, yet the people can not get the dog to do that which the dog has been trained to do.
There are several reasons for this. Among the biggest hurdles that people face is that if they didn’t train the dog themselves they will have a harder time with the dog. Most qualified trainers will tell you that YOU need to train your dog. Training starts with your relationship with your dog. There’s an article on the site that I suggest everyone to read “Building a Relationship Before Training.”
If you think you are going to tell your dog to sit and expect him to sit, and then get upset that your dog doesn’t sit…. you have a big obstacle in front of you. Before you ever give a dog a command, make sure you have a solid relationship with the dog, connect with the dog – then start shaping and marking the behaviors you want.
Among the most common calls I get is people saying that their dog doesn’t come when called. I’ll ask what the people are doing to teach the dog to come, and the only answer people can give is I yell COME HERE. This is one of the most ridiculous things that I can imagine, but I guess I might be in left field here. People truly expect their dog to come when they call. Have they spent any time teaching the dog what COME means? Have they build a relationship with the dog that makes the dog prefer to be with them rather than away from them? I would say no. If they did, the dog would prefer to be next to them and the issue would not be “how do I get the dog to come to me?” In many sport dog training events we need to teach the dog to run away from us for a certain distance. This is one of the hardest things to teach the dog, since we’ve built a strong relationship with the dog and he prefers to be with us.
When you are ready to start with training, take a step back. Have you formed a solid relationship with your dog? Does your dog prefer to be with you? What is your dogs attitude when he is with you? The dog needs to be happy and into you and the training before you begin. Forcing a dog to do this will never work. If you want to use methods of yanking the dog around to get him to do what you want, that is another story. It may or may not work, however I’ve found that most dogs respond better to positive – motivational based training. That is not to say that I do not believe in corrections, I do. The point is that there is a place for both in good training, starting with corrections only sets the plate for a relationship in which your dog fears you and doesn’t respect you. Respect is what we focus on primarily in training…. Being a wimp in training will not help you either. Proper technique will require a balance between firm, fair and fun. This is what dogs look for in a training session. Can you deliver that?