Team Building; Why Your Dog Training Will Never Change Until You Commit to One Thing!
One simple thing!
Really, it is pretty simple.
But first, let’s talk about why your dog training isn’t working.
Just ponder that word for a moment.
What does it bring to mind?
If I say “We are going to work on training this Monday, at work.”
Would it conjure ideas of happiness and delight?
A fun day at work?
Or would it bring notions of tedious, monotonous work that everyone thinks they know how to complete but no one does it correctly or the same?
For most; tedious and monotonous don’t even begin to describe the horrors of a “training day”.
Training, almost insinuates that something is done incorrectly.
But the real definition of training is teaching or developing in oneself or another any skill or knowledge that relate to specific and useful competencies.
Training to me does equal fun… but I suppose that is because I am a dog trainer.
I actually look forward to training, and developing relationships and skills with my dog, I think I fall in the minority.
That is the BIG Difference
I train with a small group of people.
We have become a “club”.
We meet usually once or twice a week, baring other life complications.
We all look forward to our meetings.
We train with our dogs during the week, and then we showcase their training when we get together.
We help and encourage one another since we all have strengths and weaknesses and no money is exchanged.
We spend a half day to a day training together and working on new skills.
We eat dinner or lunch together. And, when the time comes we compete in certain dog sports together or at least support the one who is going to trial and compete.
WE LOVE TRAINING
We make training fun!
Our dogs love training, they live for training, it is THE most exciting thing that they do; they work for us.
Secretly I look forward to training day ALL WEEK! And, I am not training “God” at training, we are all important and have impressive obedience.
Most people wait until there is a BIG issue.
The dog is jumping, the dog is digging, the dog is barking, the dog is pooping in the house, the dog is trying to bite the neighbor (insert more problems here).
And, when they wait so long they feel “forced” to train.
Most are frustrated.
They grab a leash and collar after “they can’t take it anymore” and proceed to take their frustrations out and “correct” the dog.
Dog Aren’t Children
Dogs aren’t like children.
They just don’t understand. They have jumped on you over 1,000 times, why is this one time so much different?
Children are also able to reason (most of them if they are old enough), they realize what they have done, how to make amends, and can make a concerted effort not to do something again.
Dogs are, well, dogs… they often act before thinking. They live in the moment and they are not so great at reasoning.
I have never had a dog come to me and say “I know they are going to dump me at the shelter, but I just can’t help myself I must jump on them, or poop on their carpet”.
In order to learn, dogs need consistency and a safe non-hostile environment.
Could you learn if I was beating you? Could you learn if you were truly afraid for yourself? The answer is no and for more on that click here. But your dog needs to feel safe in order to learn a new behavior, and sometimes he needs to feel safe in order to complete a task he knows.
How To Become More Like Us
Dog training should be fun, for you BOTH! You should look forward to spending time with your best furry friend every day!
We don’t wait for problems to crop up, we are too busy training and having fun!
Regular training helps to avoid the problems that most people combat.
My dog doesn’t pee or poop in the house, he doesn’t jump on me, because he was taught those principles a long time ago.
My training goals are faster behaviors, and perfection and precision.
You’ll see if you devote 20 minutes or more EVERY DAY to training, a lot of your dog’s problems will go away. Because you are actually giving him what he needs, which is interaction and mental stimulation.
Even if you use barbaric and nasty training techniques, you will see a difference in your dog (but please don’t).
And, I only say that to prove my point, that anything is better than nothing.
Nothing leads to no gain, and no change, only an increase in your frustration.
Now That You Are Training More Add the KEY Ingredient
I don’t spend 20 minutes physically forcing my dog to do anything, that wouldn’t be fun for me or him!
I certainly wouldn’t devote 20 minutes of my hard earned time every day to fight with my dog.
I spend 20 minutes (sometimes less, sometimes more) playing games, shaping behavior and REWARDING my dog.
I work on my own training and timing as well, because we all have behaviors that need to be changed and worked on; how and when to shape, what behaviors I like, what behaviors I never want to see again.
If you do it right, dog training time can become your escape from your troubles and the real world!
My dog goes into “training” thinking it is playing and fun.
Instead of training think “team building” or “team work”.
Most work exercises where you work on team building are built around having fun with coworkers.
You need to “team build” with your dog!
Take his favorite toy, now put him on a leash and take them both outside.
Now teach him, that if he listens to you; he will be rewarded with playing with you AND his toy!
If he can’t comply, help him, and then reward him with games, his toy and you.
Once he has learned that “training” isn’t about force, yet is about FUN then he can be taught anything.
If he doesn’t comply, the consequence of his actions means his favorite thing (time with you) is cut short.
If my dogs do something I don’t want, knowingly (they didn’t make a mistake, I know they know better) then I immediately take them inside and ignore them.
If they want to play, they must listen. THIS is a very powerful tool if your dogs life revolves around you.
It is not a powerful tool if your dog doesn’t really care about you! If that is the case go back to step one and teach him how fun you are.
Wouldn’t you love it if the biggest problem that you had with your dog is that he didn’t respond in a fraction of a second or he dropped his attention for 3 seconds?
Dogs that are having fun, and are engaged in consistent training have much fewer behavior problems.
We do obedience; novice through advanced, we do agility, we do scent detection, we do dock diving, we do Rally, we do protection training and basically everything you can imagine.
We don’t just drill basic obedience, there isn’t a ton of fun in that, we mix up what we are working on to keep it fun!
And the bad behaviors that do crop up, are easy for the owner to deal with, because they are training consistently daily.
When a command is given, the dog complies, because he has been taught through conditioning that if he does, a reward and game is on its way.
That doesn’t mean I have to play ball with my dog in the kitchen if I drop a piece of food and he leaves it on command.
The conditioning and the happy times we have outside working together, bleed over into his normal life and he simply listens out of habit.
That doesn’t mean that I never reward him inside (although I don’t throw toys in an attempt to save my home), I do, but I don’t reward him nearly as often.
Beyond the basic necessities of life (food, shelter, water, safety and family) we live for the good times.
So does your dog.
He is sitting there, waiting as you read this, hoping to do something fun.
Fun, is well…. FUN!!!!
So get his toys and show him a good time, and while you are at it make him work and teach him what you want!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.