It’s not unusual for people to schedule an evaluation and they bring their children. What really amazes me is that 99 percent of the time their children are well behaved; in fact, you wouldn’t even know they were there. This tells me that parenting is somehow different than raising a dog.
Parenting is all about teaching rules and proper behavior at home and in public. We teach our kids to say please and thank you. Not to interrupt when an adult is talking. You don’t run around, scream, and jump on the furniture, especially in a public place or at someone’s home. There are consequences for behavior. With children we can reason with them. If you do this, this will happen. We use time outs and rewards to shape behavior.
Where people get into trouble is when they treat their dogs as babies. Dogs are furry and cute and be talk baby talk to them. We also use human psychology with them. “You need to stop barking because you are driving Momma crazy. Here’s a treat now be quiet”. What the dog interprets is barking gets reward which promotes more barking. Talking, food, water, touch is all rewards to a dog.
Wild dogs and wolves live in a calm pack because the older ones teach the pups the rules to live by. They do it by consequences. Unwanted behavior gets a stern look, growl, and then bite. Dogs use energy, body movement, sound, and touch to teach behavior. We have to use the same learning principals if you want your dog to behave at home and in public. There have to be consequences for behavior.
A client once told me “I don’t want to use any training collars during the training”. She wanted the dog stop escaping, running away, and to come every time he is called. I told her your dog may be very food motivated and I use food in my training, but once the dog is outside and he starts following his nose, and the food is going to mean nothing to him. Odor to a dog is a huge distraction. This is the reason the dog was running away every chance it got. It was a hound dog and was having a great time sniffing all the different odors in the world. She either used a harness or nylon snap collar on her dog and the dog literally created sores on its chest and neck from the intense pulling when they walked him. This seems to be okay but she didn’t want to hurt her dog with a training collar. I don’t hurt dogs when I train. I am an animal lover and don’t use compulsive training techniques. It’s the reason I demo my dog when doing an evaluation. My dogs are happy, compulsive trained dogs are depressed.
I have been teaching dogs to listen during distractions for a very long time. My training is distraction based. We teach basics first and as the dog progresses we add distractions. I have no idea how to teach a dog to ignore distractions with food when the distraction is a hire motivator than the food.
My training has developed over the years. In the past I used choke chains, prong collars, and slip collars. I have found that remote collars are by far, the most humane and effective way to interrupt behavior and help teach focus. The intensity level used is very low and it’s similar to a child tapping an adult on the shoulder to get their attention. We use whatever level is just right for the dog. All my clients love their remote collars. If used properly it’s a very efficient way to train. Dogs learn very quickly what is expected of them. In the dog world there is no gray area. There is right and wrong. This is why dogs respond so well when they know exactly what the rules are. When you see a well behaved dog, you know he has a clear understanding what is expected of him.
Everyone should be able to take their dogs along a foot path, field, or hiking trail and let them run free sniff the world without fear of them running away. Dogs should be able to be dogs. They cannot be free and explore the world if you do not have control of them. A trained dog is a happy dog. Love your dog; Love your dog’s behavior.