All About Dogs Dog Training


There are basically two schools of thought at the moment when it comes to dog training. The one belief is that you need to replicate as far as possible the wolf pack ethos, and the other is that you don’t. We know that all dogs originated as wolves and selective breeding has developed all the different types of dogs we see today. It is assumed that all the basic instincts of the wolf are still there somewhere in your dog. The “pack” school of thought believes that you have to establish yourself as the “leader of the pack” and your dog will follow and obey you willingly. As far as possible they believe in holding themselves aloof from their dogs, encouraging an element of respect bordering on fear. An experiment done with tamed wolves shows that when a wolf gets into trouble or difficulties, even though he has accepted human authority, he does not go to a human for help but rather struggles himself to sort things out.

A dog, on the other hand, looks immediately for help to his human owner. I believe that the relationship between dog and owner is unique, and nothing like that between a wolf pack leader and the wolves. The more loving you are to your dog, the more he loves you. If he disobeys you it is from misunderstanding, or lack of bonding. Get the bond right and the respect will come by itself. He needs to know without doubt what you will not tolerate, and with absolute clarity what you do want of him. In return, you have to know and understand his needs. There is indeed a lot of the wolf still there and you need to respect that. Whatever your personal philosophy is about packs and dogs, your dog training follows a similar route. As early as possible, start working with your dog. Handling, playing and gentle brushing can be done when he is just a few weeks old. Once he starts eating, a whole new leverage opens up to you. Most dogs love food and unless you live somewhere where there is a threat of poisoning, you should encourage him to take food rewards.

Also particular areas of their bodies where they love being scratched, such as between the neck and the shoulder blades. These things can be used as rewards to show that you are pleased with them. Never use them in conjunction with displeasure or punishment, though. Time and again I have seen a dog scolded for doing something wrong and then patted. How confusing is that! You have to find ways to communicate. This is the way you build up a common language with them. Your different commands should sound different. Your tone of voice and movements are more important than the words themselves. Even a really intelligent dog understands relatively few words. But he is a sharper reader of body language than even you are! Be consistent at all times. Dogs, like all animals, don’t like surprises. They like to know what to expect, and for you to be entirely predictable. This is the basic building block of trust. When dogs know, trust and love you and they understand what you want of them, they are almost unbelievably anxious to please. Once this basic relationship has been established, you can go on to whatever discipline of training you prefer. There are many. Basic home dog obedience, protection and police dog work, tracking, sniffing out dangerous substances or trapped or buried people, sheep herding, flyball, jumping and agility, blind dog training and other disabled helper functions, to name just a few.

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