Train What You Need, Not What You Want
This appeared on my facebook wall the other day.
It is an interesting statement what do you think?
I personally want to do both, at least to some degree.
Is my life ever going to depend on my dog’s ability to roll over or retrieve an item (things I perceive I want)... probably not; well maybe if he was retrieving a phone when I was having an emergency.`
But I DO need him to not pull me into the street where I might get run over.
I DO need him not to tap dance on my head like he has tap shoes on while I am driving.
I DO need him to not eat the neighbors, the UPS man and the kids’ friends when they visit.
I NEED mostly basic and some advanced dog obedience moves.
But is that all HE NEEDS?
Do you think your dog only wants to learn basic obedience or just the things you think you need him to do?
Now let me clarify, I think most animals want to do the most minimal amount of work to make them happy and no one likes force or RULES for more on why your dog doesn't like being forced click here!
But dogs LOVE training and fun.
So if you approach this right you end up with a dog that adores learning and training.
I had a dog plucking ornaments off the Christmas tree… Sounds naughty doesn’t it?
But in all reality she was just trying to get me to interact with her and reward her. She didn’t know what she was doing was bad, and she wasn’t stealing them to eat them or chew them in another room. She was like “Hey, did you know these were over here…”
However, I don’t really want to reward her removing items from the tree.
So instead of yelling, or correcting or rewarding her; I basically said “Thank you” in a neutral tone, ignored her and put the ornaments back on the tree.
She only brought me two before she realized THAT wasn’t going to get her a treat and so she stopped.
But you have to give her props, she wasn’t sure those silly shiny things belonged there, and she wanted to make sure I knew about it, and she wanted my attention and a treat.
To me that means she needs to be stimulated in some way.
More on teaching your thief to retrieve click here.
She needed exercise or training or both.
Now, she basically knows everything I NEED her to know, and I could work on her compliance to those; which I often do. Or, I can challenge her brain by teaching her something new.
She is 2 and has received 6 titles already (several of those were 1st place winnings) so I think she has the concept of obedience.
But she likes working with and for me, so I like teaching her new concepts.
Might as well find out what she is capable of right?
I saw a dog documentary once where a dog (Border Collie) owner taught his dog to find specific toys, by name and they were placed in a circle. It was amazing really, cause most of the toys looked alike. I can’t even remember how many toy names he was up to (apparently 1022 I looked it up); but it was seriously impressive.
For more on Chaser the Border Collie click here.
That is not my kind of training ha ha. I like going outside, so I do things like agility, climbing and weaving and fun stuff like that.
Do I need her to do these behavior… ummm not unless I need her to crawl out of somewhere or into somewhere to get help, but we both certainly enjoy it.
So why can’t we train for what we need AND what we want??
For more on how dog agility can help your dog obedience click here.
I think that is the answer to a happy dog and a happy relationship!
For with those leash manners check out our article on leash manners here.
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.