It’s been too long since I sat down and wrote something of my approach to training on the blog. It’s been a hectic, if not outright erratic 2014 thus far, and that’s part of the reason. But I’ve also given a lot of time to Training with the Dogs, rather than just writing about that which has gone before. We are Full-Tilt jumping into the Nosework world, so it’s work,work,work…Some new thoughts have been kicking around though, and this is the first that has developed into a post. This is also the first post where I’m using both hands to type after my surgery, so “Yippppeeeeeee!!!!”
“Take the Lead Into Your Hand With Confidence and Purpose. Do The Work with Energy, Fire. .. Allow Yourself to see the miracle of God’s Handiwork.”- Me.
Okay, not exactly poetry on my part, but it’s something I tell my students that seem nervous, indecisive, or lack confidence with their dog. I suppose it also has a wider application, but for this, it has to do with dog training. Apply it wherever else you may…
Like so many, I have grown tired of the fighting and bickering so prevalent in the dog training world over training methods. Most of the arguments are Ego Driven and usually self-aggrandizing on the part of sales conscious minor celebrity trainers that have small but cultish followings. What it produces is a militant and unbending attitude on the part of people that are then unwilling to change methods, even if evidence demonstrates that their chosen method is NOT working. But it also produces trainers/owners that are hesitant, unsure, and lack self-confidence. Most never really master whatever type of singular training they choose. There are countless “clicker-trainers” that have absolutely zero sense of timing, and just as many “Balanced Trainers” that lack any idea of what “Leadership” entails. There are plenty of E-collar trainers that still exist in the “Fry ’em” category, using high settings and long duration. Why? They lack the ability or the will to be a confident Leader for their dog. So they attempt to rely on Scientific Theory, or worse, Pain, to accomplish their training. Time for for Big Boy Pants/Big Girl Panties…
YOU, are responsible for your dogs Behavior and Training. Take The Leash into your Hand with confidence, and stop worrying about “Quadrants” and “Pack Theory”, and “How Far Away will this Device correct the Dog?.” When you enter the training field, Be Your Dogs Leader. Develop a confidence separate from anger or fear. Give your dog the assurance that you, his human, are ready to take care of him no matter what happens. He need only look to You as his Leader…
“How do I do that?” you might ask.
Easy. Prepare Yourself. Take the Time to Understand many ways of training a dog. Learn to understand the unique and individual needs of your dog in training, and what best produces that result. Put aside the militant stand that ONLY Pure Positive methods will work. Put aside the ” More Voltage will stop that behavior” mind-set. Allow your dog finally teach you to work together. This requires a dedication to learning that so many want to have accomplished in a day. It Just doesn’t work that way. Developing a passion, a Fire, for learning is going to cost you more than just filthy lucre…It will often cost you the comfort of being “Right” about everything. It may, sadly, cost you the friendship of those that continue following doctrine rather than Truth…But, you will emerge a better, more empathetic, trainer of dogs. This all has to come from within yourself…Learn from others that you admire, but learn from those you may despise as well. Chances are, you despise them because of a deeply ingrained bias supplied by those you admire. Find someone who’s method you’ve bad-mouthed on Facebook, and take their seminar, or read their book. Get into their head, and try to understand things from their viewpoint. Build a Fire of Understanding that will forge a method uniquely your own, that belongs to Your individual dog. Stop being a follower, and be a LEADER. Your dog deserves no less.
And always understand that your dog is the culmination of a purpose put in place by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Your dog was meant to be with human companions as a helper, not his Master. YOU must supply the leadership, or your dogs purpose is no better than a hunk of driftwood caught in a maelstrom…waiting to be sucked into the vortex that lies at the bottom.
Put your better self at the other end of his leash, get prepared to work, and put your bias to death. Discover whatever it takes to train your dog to his best outcome…There is NO Best Practice or Method… Only what Your individual dog needs right now.
And for the love of all that is true and good, stop spending so much time online trying to convince others that ONLY your way is right. If all of us focused on ourselves, everybody else will be just fine without the cowardly criticism of those that hide behind a screen name.
During my convalescence, I’ve had time to observe a plethora of conversations that fall into the worst of these guidelines. A raging torrent of “Do It My Way”, and veritable cornucoppia of impotent rage. They are just NOT worth the time for real dog trainers, professional AND amateur, to engage in. Go build your own fire!