March 26th, 2013

Why Dog Training is Really People Training

100_1880

"My hoomin & I go to puppy skool and we learns together!"

...So, is shipping your dog off to "boarder" training school for two weeks useful?
Or is it like sending your car to driving school...and expecting that to make YOU a better driver?

Over 15 years as a trainer, I've had a smattering of people ask if they could send their dogs to me for training. I tell them, no, I don't have a facility for that -- and, even if I did, I would discourage that kind of training anyway. Why?

Because dog training is mostly people training.

If you want to have a happy, well-behaved dog, you have to understand your pet, learn how to teach him what you want him to know -- and teach yourself how to be your dog's positive leader (which does NOT require physical domination, choke collars or yelling).

Dogs don't "misbehave" because they're "bad" dogs, but for these three main reasons:
1) "misbehavior" (like grabbing your unattended pizza slice from the table) comes naturally to them
2) nobody taught them not to do it -- you can't blame a dog for thinking "If you're not gonna eat that, I'll eat it!"
3) their humans don't know how to train them, and don't bother to find out

Any competent professional trainer -- using a wide range of methods, some less desirable than others -- can teach a dog to listen to him. But dogs need to learn to listen to their human owners, not to a professional trainer.

So a trainer's real job isn't teaching the dogs -- it's teaching the humans how to teach their own dogs.

That only works if the humans are continually involved in the process -- which can't happen if they're sending their dogs to be trained by somebody else. Some trainers who do that kind of training require the humans to come for a few hours of work with their dogs toward the end of the program. By that time, after being drilled by professionals for weeks, these dogs are quite good at listening to commands.

So a frustrated owner, who's sent his unruly, ill-mannered dog away for two weeks, reports to the training facility -- and is amazed by how much his pooch has learned: "Wow! This was well worth the thousand bucks I paid!" The trainer then hastily teaches the human owner how to "drive" his newly-educated dog, and human and dog go home to enjoy a new and orderly life together.

So, what's wrong with this picture? The dog has been trained by a professional with years of experience and understanding of why dogs do what they do and how to get them to do something else. But the human owner doesn't have that knowledge and experience. A couple of hours of instruction can’t possibly teach someone how to consistently apply those newly-learned commands to create a predictable structure within which a dog earns what he wants by being a “good” dog.

**********************88888888 So, when inevitable glitches arise, the human owner doesn't know how to make adjustments. In short order, both human and dog fall back into old dysfunctional habits. Is it possible to send your dog off to be trained by a pro, and end up with a good long-term result? Maybe. Is it likely? I doubt it.

Why?
Because dogs take their cues from us, their human companions.   Behaviors evolve over time -- and if dogs and their humans are not partners in training, that simultaneous evolution of good behaviors and human leadership won’t occur in synch...or at all.

Dog training ain't rocket science, as the saying goes. With a little guidance from a good trainer, almost all dog owners can – and should – learn to train their own dogs. The only requirements are an open mind, some time and effort, and patience. When you and your dog learn together, you'll be creating an unshakeable bond of trust and love. And, in the end, that's a whole lot more satisfying than sending your car to driving school!

******************************************************************************************************************************************

Howard Weinstein started Day-One Dog Training in Howard County, Maryland in 1998. You can reach him through http://dayonedogtraining.com. He's also the author of Puppy Kisses are Good for the Soul & Other Important Lessons You& Your Dog Can Teach Each Other (available in both paperback and e-book at Amazon.com -- http://tinyurl.com/9rah6kg -- or http://dayonedogtraining.com).

PupKissesKindle2819283_Cover