Practical Foundation

Sunday, January 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Bob Self (Administrator)

The series begins with general skills that anyone attempting to train a dog should understand. The information includes some goals, philosophies, theories, pitfalls, beliefs and opinions. It is not intended to be a thesis on the psychology of animal behavior, but a practical foundation on which to build a dog training routine that can efficiently produce a willing, happy, and well-trained dog.


The stated purpose of this series is to aid the reader in developing a training method that will be effective for both trainer and dog. Each dog trainer is unique.  We are all individuals with varying abilities and desires.  Adding to this mix is a dog, also with traits that vary from all other canines.  Although many individuals attempt to promote single methodologies of dog training, certainly no one way will be successful for every dog and handler.

In many works on obedience training lip service is given to the individual differences among dogs.  Unfortunately this is soon discarded and "the method" becomes the central theme. Worse than this, many trainers write in generalities, giving an impression that any failures of their system are due to incompetent trainers who did not apply "the method" correctly.

At times I find some systems of dog training are based on innate beliefs of the so-called experts.  This often seems to occur most often with trainers promoting purely positive methods.  They often claim that physical corrections on the dog are unfair and inhumane punishment.  Riding the tied of political correctness, and unwilling to give in to their convictions, these masters invent lengthy and increasingly complex solutions of training.  When the training falters, again it's the inept trainers fault for not precisely following their methodology.

Bottom line... NO one method works for every person and every dog.  Good trainers maintain a continuously evolving indoctrination.  Growing up in a dog-training household, I overheard untold "I have a training problem" conversations between my father and other knowledgeable and highly skilled trainers.  These conversations often dealt with dogs that had been in training and competition a long time.  Dogs who certainly could be considered proficiently well trained.  At some point the dog developed a problem the owner just couldn't solve.  Often groping for answers, these individuals would investigate far and wide for any way to concoct a solution. 

Obviously it would be dishonest of me to state that I've never seen abusive training.  Believe me, I have seen more than my fair share!  However, I can honestly state that in the situations noted above I haven't.  Abusive training results from frustration and anger.  Undeniably discontent trainers make stupid decisions that harm the man-dog relationship and cause added drawbacks that confuse the situation further. Thinking trainers do not fall into this trap.  They understand that emotional training is no answer.  In the same light however, they also understand that physical corrections may be required, and can be applied in a humanistic way.

Today there are an ever-evolving number of breeds each with their own characteristics. Each of these becomes paired to humans of all shapes, sizes, and physical abilities.  Mentally prejudiced in some areas and open minded in others. There just isn’t any one training panacea for all their problems.

There are individual dogs that are exceedingly adaptable to training. These can be trained by using practically any technique or method. This type of animal is generally in the winner’s circle, is a pleasure to train, and certainly makes a trainer look good. 

Techniques that will work for this type trainer and dog are not necessarily successful for all others. To advocate that the average trainer uses methods which only dogs with outstanding obedience potential are capable is to doom the trainer to failure, producing dogs that work with no spirit or fire. Such trainers are often the innocent perpetrators of the criticisms of all obedience training.

The training ideas presented in this series should give a high percentage of success with most trainers and dogs.  Not asking anyone to use only these techniques, alternate suggestions will be given to motivate dogs that do not respond. All trainers are urged to pick and choose from the ideas given so that they develop their own “philosophy” of training.  Every competent trainer needs to develop techniques that fit their abilities and goals.  Anyone who has trained more than one dog knows of a technique that worked well for one but failed miserably on another.  Individual differences of both dog and trainer must be considered if the dog is to be well trained.

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