Published at Thursday, 23 May 2019. Dog Training. By Sennet Baron.
The Alpha Position: Every domesticated dog needs to be trained in this area. By no means should your dog be allowed to assume this role in your home or outdoors for that matter. Dogs do not speak, they bark, except for the Basenji breed of course, so do not assume dogs understand human language. Ultimately your dog needs to know that you are in charge and as such, your dog can relax, knowing that you will protect him. I know this sounds strange, as many of us assume the dog is there to protect us. Make no error, your dog will certainly ”come to the party” when his pack or any one of its members is under threat. This serves to re-enforce the concept of establishing the pack roles so that your dog knows exactly who is in and who is not.
In my experience, most snags in the dog training process result from miscommunication, not willfulness, stubbornness, or dominance. While this article is geared toward training the family dog, the fact is that whether your dog is strictly a family pet, a competitor in canine sports, or a full-time working dog, getting the most out of your training time means learning to communicate effectively with your dog.
Bring yourself into a training session committed to focusing on your dog to the same extent that you are asking him to focus on you. Avoid training when you are distracted or pre-occupied. This is basic respect and consideration, no more than you would give any good friend! To be attentive to your dog, you don't need to stare at him, but you should be aware of him. An effective trainer is aware, present, and ”in the moment” while training, ready and able to note and reward any and all good responses, as they happen. And if your dog gives a response you weren't hoping for? Instead of drawing attention to it, verbally or otherwise, ignore it and move on! Drawing attention to poor responses often simply cements them in the dog's brain, and makes it more likely that he will offer it again. Focus your energy and attention on behaviors you want to see again. As you practice this approach to working with your dog, you will soon find that your dog will be working to gain your attention by doing those things you like. As your dog's behavior steadily improves, voluntary cooperation increases, your relationship with your dog gets stronger, and you both have more fun training. Kind of hard to find a down-side to that, don't you think?
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