Many dog owners, who have trained their dogs, do not realize the tools for working on many dog behaviors that are problems to us are the training commands themselves. The ability to use these commands repetitively in different situations can help build the types of reactions that dog owners prefer from their dogs in many situations.
Patterns, as I define them in dog training and behavior modification, are manufactured predictable events. That is they are a sequence of steps that become predictable with repetition and consistency. Remember, canines do not share our human language. We can not tell them what is coming up, but our actions to create patterns and structure can place them on more predictable ground.
As humans we take this for granted for ourselves, but if you think about it, our every day patterns and structure lend to the feeling of safety and security for human children and adults alike. Of course we can talk to each other should an unanticipated event comes up. Can you imagine how scary some events are to dogs who do not have that sort of heads up? We can make everything smooth sailing (or smoother sailing anyway) by adding a little pattern and structure to certain parts of our canine's day.
Leon loved fetching as a wee young thing. We both learned about this skill together, and had a lot of fun doing it.
What do I mean by your dog's "bliss"?
Engagement in dog training is the ability to create a relationship with your dog where you are the reward. Engagement done well will have your dog insisting on continuing the activity with their owner. In other methods of training, there are some elements of this as well, but the engagement that I am talking about is much more. Engagement in dog training is more about play with their owner or handler to create that very strong bond and work ethic. As with anything, it can have it's pluses and minuses. I really enjoy this method, because I get to play with my dog and train. The thing that motivates me in this method, is seeing my dog have fun while we are doing it. Why do I also use other methods other than Engagement and Motivational methods? One reason is this is a bit slower process than some other methods in the shorter term. Sometimes if you really need to stop your dog from jumping on your elderly relatives, while including them in your family activities, you might want to take a faster course of action. Of course there are ways to control what you dog does by confining them more, but I like my dogs to have certain freedoms during the day, where this perhaps might not happen if I was only using this method. It takes longer not in time per day, but the progress to build to a goal in general will take more time. There are reasons to want to spend a longer period if time in training your dog. I will go over that at a later date.
Dog lovers know that a dog's physical appearance as far as size, hair length, hair color, ears shape, curly or flat coated, age, and so on. Dog's are also individuals, and these internal characteristics do not show on their outsides. These personality traits and temperaments can vary wildly from playful, wary, suspicious, defensive, resource guarding, driven, active, laid back, and so forth. Add to the mix that some dogs have some training or real life experiences that may be useful as a dog owner or trainer creates a training plan. Recently, one of our blogs went over why there are so many different methods, techniques, and tools that help a dog owner to train their dog.
A professional dog trainer will look at the dog you have right now (as best they can in the time they have) to determine the right path to start down. A dog owner who is honest with themselves can begin to assess this too. None of these traits determine how well a dog will be trained, but they do guide you to what ways will most likely efficiently and effectively train your dog to the best of your ability.
If you have ever looked into finding a complete dog training plan for your dog, you probably found a confusing amount of information out there. Some of one method's rules probably contradicted another's method rules.
Does this mean some people are using methods and training and that don't work? Why can some methods be so different, but still seem to get great results for the dog training team?
In general, training a dog involves teaching a command that can be understood by your dog using a verbal cue or signal. Unless you also know how to teach your dog to be focused, calm, and confident in certain situations, you may be constantly struggling, because you have missed another important piece of the puzzle.
That piece is behavior modification, which does not just apply to dogs with behavioral problems. This can also be for active dogs to learn how to chill in environments that might be exciting in order to do their work or focus on training with you.
Calming or relaxation exercises benefit all dogs, unless you have the rare very relaxed dog in any situation. In the majority of dog or puppies though, learning to relax is a very important skill. It helps those dogs of sound temperament, it helps dogs with behavioral problems, it helps young puppies, and it helps those older adults not exposed to the concept of self chilling.
I always hope to influence very young puppies with these exercises, but you don't always get that lucky. Many years ago, I myself had not discovered the very value benefit to my dogs of doing these. I discovered the value, when trying to figure out how to calm my dog, Jackie, before we got into the ring to do obedience and earn his Companion Dog title. This was the key to his success in that area, but this is also the key to a well rounded, confident dog, who has been exposed to many stimulus's that get most dogs all riled up, and cause dog owners many unneeded problems. These exercises are worth the time and the effort. Some may be very boring, but they are enormously valuable. I would not do them myself it they were not.
Most dog owners, especially first time dog owners, do not have a real understanding of what dog training is. How could they? This is not something taught to us in most schools, and dogs are a totally different species than we are. The building blocks of dog training are very important, and it is the understanding of these and why they are used that confuse most dog owners.
The first thing you should know is dog training is a process. There are many steps, and if you don't step off on the right foot in the first place, you will make your self a lot of unnecessary work later or just give up in frustration at a point where you could have excelled. This blog seeks to give you some insights to understand the bones of the process in hopes that when you start training you will continue on to a very enjoyable life for you and your dog with a fabulous working relationship.
Author, Robin Rubin
Owner and Head Dog Trainer in Maine, Robin Katherine Rubin, started her Maine dog training business in September 2004. Our dog training facility is located in Southern Maine in York Beach and we help families enjoy their dogs more, making sure they listen reliably and resolving unwanted behaviors.