Published at Wednesday, 22 May 2019. Dog Training. By Marielle Leriche.
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?
Promote cooperation. When you give your dog a verbal cue, your voice, like your body language, should be relaxed and even. Speak in a normal tone. As you give your cue, picture your dog performing the exercise nicely — this confidence will come through in your voice. Avoid tones that are whiny, questioning, or pleading. Trying to train your dog in these ”lost puppy” tones will be an exercise in frustration. They will not gain you acknowledgment, much less respect! Remember, you are a teacher, a coach, a mentor – not a servant. At the other extreme, you don't need to assume a loud, tough-sounding ”command voice”. This is for two reasons. First, aggressive, intimidating tones tend to introduce resistance in more confident dogs, and unthinking subservience in less confident ones. Neither is conducive to learning, cooperation, or teamwork. Second, your dog is perfectly capable of listening and responding when you speak in a normal, pleasant, everyday tone of voice. Assuming you plan to utilize what you've taught your dog in your everyday life, you will be instructing your dogs here and there all day long. So, why in the world teach your dog that you have to play ”drill sergeant” in order to have him do as you ask? It introduces unnecessary stress into training, is not particularly productive, and certainly doesn't reflect a relationship of willing partnership. The fact is, your dog is much more likely to respond calmly, willingly, and thoughtfully if your voice and demeanor are relaxed and conversational. The bottom line: to promote cooperation, teach your dog his cues in a voice that is reasonable, comfortable, and normal for you.
Take housetraining, for example. The two methods approach the task in significantly different ways. There are a multitude of places a dog could relieve himself inside the house, and they're all unacceptable. If you used aversive training techniques, you'd need to wait for your dog to eliminate somewhere in the house and then correct him when he does. Think about this for a minute. Isn't it unfair to punish your dog before he's had a chance to learn your rules? And, you need to realize that using this method for housetraining can require numerous corrections and a lot of time. Isn't it quicker, easier and more effective to simply show your dog the right place to relieve himself and then reward him when he uses it?
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