Dog training: train with the end in mind

In regards to dog training, train with the end in mind. Consider how you want your dog to behave in your home, how should your dog interact with friends and family members as well as what goals do you have for your dog:  family pet, therapy dog or a competition dog.

When people get a dog they would do well to hire a professional dog trainer and/or enroll in group dog training classes. The training should not only teach basic obedience commands but also simulate real world applications.  This makes the training real for not only the dog but also the owner.

Educational studies show when people are trained to apply newly acquired skills in scenario based situations, they learn to respond more quickly and effectively in real world situations. They are more likely to be pro active when placed in stressful environments and not reactive or worse yet, panic-stricken. And, this is true in dog training as well. Once the basics have been taught, group class environments should simulate real world situations such as veterinarian office lobbies, dog teams passing each other near and through entrance ways and hallways, group dog trail hikes, sitting and crossing at street corners, how to conduct dog to dog meetings, etc.

A common scenario posed to dog trainers is one member of the household loves to rough house with the dog, since the other members of the family do not. This situation becomes even more problematic when the family includes small children.  Even if the dog “rough houses appropriately” with an adult member of the family, that same level of activity may not be safe around children who try to emulate the adult way of playing with the dog. Often times, it is difficult to convince this family member to stop the rough form of play because they find the activity pleasurable and so far, no one has gotten hurt.  So instead of trying to get the family member to eliminate active play, it is recommended to change the type of play from rough housing to an active game of fetch.  This way the adult family member can continue to have fun with their dog and ensure a safer way for the dog to interact with family members.

So now that the form of active play has been changed, another consideration should be the site of the active play.  It should not occur in the main part of the house where the dog is expected to show calm behavior.  Instead, the play should occur in the basement (provided the basement is not a play area for the children), in the yard or at a local park.

If the goal for the dog is to become a competition dog; it is likely that his prey drive for a tug toy or ball will be enhanced. So thought has to be given as to who is going to be responsible for working and handling the dog, what supervision needs to occur with the dog’s interactions with young children, children need to be taught not to run from the dog or play tug with the dog, what rules are put into place with the active games such as “sit” and “give”, where does the drive training take place, etc.

However, if the goal is for the dog to become a therapy dog; consideration has to be given to reinforcing calm behavior.  Case in point, is a young male Rottweiler, named Buddy, who belongs to a lady who is a senior citizen.  Buddy use to pull so hard on a leash that he once caused his owner to fall and break a rib.  He is participating in a board and train program with the Michigan Dog Trainer.  He is not only learning good household manners but he is also being reinforced for calm behavior.  It is not enough for him to learn to walk on a loose leash with an able-bodied young person. He needs to learn to heel at his owner’s side at “her walking pace.” Therefore, his neighborhood walks are done at a super slow pace. So like Buddy, train your dog with the end goals in mind.

Click the below link to watch a clip from Buddy’s training walks:

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/kxeJtjVdPJg?rel=0

About Michael Burkey

Michael Burkey is a professional dog trainer, behaviorist and owner of MichiganDogTrainer.com, a highly successful dog training company whose aim is to promote peaceful relationships between pets and families. Additionally, he is an expert trial witness, certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluator for the American Kennel Club (AKC), former Police K9 Handler, Search and Rescue (SAR) K9 Training Director and SAR K9 Handler, obedience and rally competitor and social worker. Dog training is a complex science and art requiring knowledge of behavioral science and learning. You can rely on Michael's experience, teaching methods, and integrity. He can be contacted at info@MichiganDogTrainer.com or 734-634-4152.
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