As I mentioned in my previous article ‘Before You Begin – Part 1’ research indicates positive reinforcement training along with being a consistently reliable leader is one of the most effective and humane ways of training dog/s.
A true leader is a person who inspires and motivates others to cooperate and follow them. They explain the rules, establish boundaries and set limits along with teaching everyone how they can get it right. A leader will think outside the square to figure out what’s needed if things don’t go as planned. They use discipline not punishment when needed. (I will discuss the difference between discipline and punishment in another article). A leader is creative and open to new ideas as well as different ways of doing things. They are responsive rather than reactive. A true leader engenders trust, respect and loyalty.
Obedience training is one way to build a relationship with your dog that is based on trust and respect. Think of it like a bank account. The more deposits you make the healthier your bank balance. Lots of trust and respect deposits made by you will ensure your account with your dog is robust and resilient and will be able to handle the odd withdrawal without too much damage being done. Too many withdrawals and your relationship with your dog will become bankrupt.
And lastly decide on what sort of help and support you need to train your dog. Do you work best having one on one attention from a dog trainer? Or do you learn better in a group situation where participants support and encourage each other and where you can learn from one another’s successes and struggles? Is it more your style to read books and watch DVDs from reputable dog trainers and practice on your own? Maybe it is a combination of all of these? Whatever you decide try it for a while and monitor how effective it is for you and your dog.
Finally, remember just because something you did worked well with another dog you’ve had in your life won’t necessarily mean it will work for the one you have in front of you now. Just like people dogs are individuals and even though most dogs learn in similar ways there is always an exception to the rule.
Flexibility, patience, stamina and a willingness to try new or different things will go a long way towards you being able to make deposits in your account with your dog. In the next article I will use a specific training challenge to illustrate everything I have written about so far in this article and the previous two.