Today I stumbled upon an interesting post on social media and it has moved me to write this blog post which I’ve been planning to write for a while now! It said, thinking of your dog as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of your dog as struggling to handle something difficult, encourages you to help them through their distress. Taken from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (ADPT).
Dog behaviour and training is such a hot topic these days and not only that, but the best and most successful approach or methods can be cause of big debate too. The message in the statement above says to me that training your dog is a group effort, a joint venture, a path of learning between owner and dog. It makes sense that the more of your time you devote to training your dog, the greater the reward for both.
Dog’s are highly intelligent and receptive creatures, they are sociable and enjoy others company. Both human and canine. Taking time to learn with your dog builds bonds and trust which is so crucial for setting them up for a happy life, it’s an ongoing adventure!
It is our responsibility to do our best by our dogs, providing enrichment and stimulation, exposing them to new experiences, providing opportunities for them to learn in a way they feel safe and to reward them often for the desired behaviour. They respond very well to this i.e tasty snacks, high value treats, a game of fetch in the garden or an extra special toy that’s reserved for positively reinforcing a new training technique.
It is also important to remember the ‘3 elements threshold’ when working with your dog. Training should be done little and often, with lots of praise and rewards and only when your dog is being receptive. There’s no point trying to do some muzzle training with your dog, if they haven’t had a good walk or otherwise seem restless. Consider Intensity, Distance and Duration.
My final thought is about body language. How much do you know about dog body language? Do you understand the ‘Ladder of Aggression’? Each dog is different, has different triggers and it’s important we understand it, not only the displays from our own dog but in an attempt to understand other dogs you often encounter, to respect their boundaries.
Here’s a great link to my friend Zoe’s campaign, Respect the Lead.