The Sekrit Dog Trainer’s Manual Part II–The Pudding is in the Proof

I used to know a dog trainer with focus so intense, he vibrated.

He could take any strange dog, in a park, or street grasp the leash, regardless of what kind of collar was on the dog–in the midst of dogs, jogger, cyclists, any and all distractions then have that dog heeling, sitting, laying down and staying–while gazing at him with rapt attention within minutes. His voice control was impeccable. Dogs “got him” straight away.

Within two weeks he could have most dogs under voice control, only.

That’s not most people. It’s not even most dog trainers. Later he would go strictly Purely Positive training [and that’s what HE called it and he did it without food rewards/lures even when he taught tricks]. Could most of his clients? I assume so because he did a bang-up amount of business long before the internet was popular and worked with me then published a book of protocols to re-condition aggressive and trained protection dogs for home living based on what we’d worked out.

We used to debate. I went by the old saw of “Teach the dog in a quiet place, first. Then start the distractions and increase the levels.”

“Nonsense,” he’d say. “Sit means SIT. Dogs don’t teach each other what to do only in quiet places. Training in a quiet place is done so the handler can manage the distraction levels–not the dog.”

That’s the whole point, I suppose.

The #1 ticket to a well behaved dog is not teaching the dog the command. It’s “distraction proofing” the dog to do it every time, all the time, no matter what is going on around them. Any dog will sit in the house. It’s the second there’s something more interesting going on that it falls apart.

In class last week all the other owners said, “S/he was great in the driveway/backyard/quiet street. Soon as we got past that, all hell broke loose.”

After that class, I thought about what my friend said. I’m still thinking about it. I’m thinking he might be right.

What if it’s NOT the distractions? He had the attitude that the dog, “The Dog Will Do It”. After a few leaps and bounds and misbehaviour–do we stop believing the dog will do it?

He thought operant conditioning was over-rated. “If you want a dog that heels into telephone poles because it’s busy staring in your face instead of truly paying attention–go for it. Eventually it’s going to break down.”

He had one other theory of interest, “The problem with dog training methods is that most are based on the premise that you should be paying attention to the dog to either correct or reward. That’s a fallacy. The dog should be paying attention to you.”

The older I get, the more I see he might have a point on that one.

We’re worried about the distractions to either reward or correct ‘with good timing’ but what is the dog thinking? Why isn’t the dog paying attention to what we want in the first place?

This man, who was the best I’ve ever seen with any kind of dog or problem–and I’ve watched a large number of dog trainers from all schools of thought. He was driven out of the business by a bullying, lying coterie of New Age R+ Clicker Trainers when he dared to tell to say on TV they were full of crap because instinct would overdrive the conditioning–A FACT cited by the very inventors of clicker training, the Brenners. He also said food was a poor motivator because other distractions were far more interesting and turning dogs into pecking pigeons was an insult to their willingness to work and their inherent sense of dignity.

Now how did this man get the dog to pay attention?

He ignored the dog. He grabbed the leash and sing-songed, “Let’s go, Fido!”

Then he would heel the dog like he was dancing up and down the busy street/park. The dog never knew what was coming next. If he accidentally stepped on a paw, he didn’t stop to apologize or weep and moan–he kept on dancing. He looked insane. By the end of a five minute heel–the dog gazed at him in rapt attention to see what came next. THEN he would sit the dog or lay it down.

I think this worked for two reasons. The first is–he had the dog’s wholehearted attention. The dog didn’t know what the hell was going on and had to pay attention to keep up. The second was his attitude, “The Dog Will Do It.”

He had no doubt, no hesitation.

You know, the emotions that plague the rest of us when Fluffykins acts like a putz? He called his attitude, “Controlled arrogance.”

The simple fact is–it takes far more time to teach the dog to ignore distractions than it does to teach the dog to do something.

We might be looking at the wrong end of the donkey here.

Bragging Rights

Okay I can’t help it.

I get bragging rights.

So last Tuesday I took the Drama Prince to his first obedience class.
He aced it.

If dogs could show off–I’m pretty sure he was strutting it.

While other dogs were leaping, barking and generally acting up, he laid quietly while I listened to instructions.

The instructor, Dorothy, started with “heel” so people could walk their dogs without ripping their armpits out, from week one.

One dog owner was seriously struggling with a leaping, joyous, overly friendly, Big Black Dog.

I really liked that dog. The sad part was that the owner looked defeated. Now her BBD did quite well for his first try. So, at the end I explained to her that the Drama Prince was much like that when I got him and if she stuck with it–BBD would soon improve. It didn’t seem to help.

I could see the problem. A slender, gentle, polite woman with 80lb 6 month exuberant puppy. Hopefully she’ll “firm up” and her BBD will calm down.

Mind you, Dear Reader–I “cheated”. When the instructor was talking, I stood on the Drama Prince’s leash much of the time as he laid there, so he couldn’t bounce around from distraction and I could pay attention without being distracted by him. By the time I “heeled” him–he’d already calmed himself from the long down.

Hahaha Dog Trainer trick 101. “Down” the dog, stand on the leash and the dog will create the pressure if it tries to move. It will also get bored and go to sleep, eventually.

The class was awed by the Drama Prince’s good manners.

Tonight is his next lesson. I assume it is “heel/sit”. He should ace that, as well.

Do you think I should “let the cat out of the bag” on this?

100 Random Dogs Survey

Sooooooooooooooooo

I finished observing 100 random dogs.

Yes, this post might be a bit boring as far as consisting of mainly numbers until I add a few observations.

I was fairly lenient in my criteria.
Walk Nicely On Leash: a dog that didn’t pull the owner regardless of distractions.
Walk Off Leash : a dog that stayed within 6 feet of the owner without a leash regardless of distractions.
Recall: A dog that came within 4 feet of the owner the first time it was called regardless of distractions.
Good Companion: A dog that could walk nicely on leash, recall and did not jump up on people, growl, snarl, bark at people or dogs.

Basic Obedience: From basic behaviour would either qualify for, or could be “touched up” to pass a basic obedience trial.

For “walk nicely” I also walked my [heeling, leashed] dog near the leashed dog, if it was not pulling when I observed, up to 4 feet away. If the dog didn’t pull at that distance I passed it.

For recall, my dog was nearby laying down. About half the dogs were good enough that they recalled even with my dog running loose. If I did not see the dog recall–I didn’t count it. So, there may be some dogs that recall that weren’t counted in. Also, if the dog was on lead and the owner did not walk it off leash in my presence–there may be some dogs that would qualify as “off leash” as well.

Some dogs may be better or worse in circumstances other than what I saw them in. This was not a laboratory–it was in real life on the streets and in parks. I did not count behaviour I saw in dog parks.

Dogs Observed: 100
Walk Nicely On Leash: 15
Walk Off Leash : 13
Recall: 13
Good Companion: 11 [off leash heel not required]
Basic Obedience: 4

Since obviously, most of the dogs fell into ALL of the categories [other than nicely on leash] the amount of decently trained dogs in this city is pitifully small.

I have to wonder who the dog trainers are training–if 96% of dogs can’t make it past a basic obedience test. And I have to wonder why, in the day and age of dog trainers all over YouTube etc. why so many owners won’t even do the basic minimum training to ensure the dog’s safety in a city environment.

Stupid Shit That Dog Owners Do

“Never underestimate the dangerousness of a dog’s natural reflexes”–Charles Eisenmann, Dog Educator, Littlest Hobo

Okay, after visiting numerous dog parks, observing at this point over 90 dogs here’s my list of Stupid Shit that Dog Owners Do. And yes, I’ve been guilty of some stupid dog owner moments, too. However, as responsible dog owners we should all be trying to do less stupid shit.

1)  Owners that let their male dogs pee all over the neighbours’ manicured gardens.

2) Owners that walk their on-leash exuberant dog face-first into a dog who is obviously heeling, downing or sitting without asking  permission. How do you know my dog is not a crazed psychopath who eats Flufflykins for lunch? You don’t.

Funny though, when I had Bouviers, nobody ever dared this, due to their reputation as killer guard dogs. With the Drama Prince looking all “Littlest Hobo” they seem to figure it’s okay.

I’m beginning to understand the Pit Bull Lurve. Nobody is walking their FurBaby face-first into a pit bull without asking.

3) Owners that allow their off-leash dogs outside of a dog park to come flying up to other dogs and people. When you tell them “CALL YOUR DOG” they then blame the person who is following the law by asking, “Is your dog aggressive?” WTF?! I can’t tell you how many dogs I had to threaten to kick away from my old arthritic dog over that nonsense.

At least when I am stupid *I* will apologize because *I* am at fault if it happens. I try not to let it happen but hey, I’m human, I slip up and I didn’t see you coming around the corner before I could call/retrieve the dog. But I’ll try not to be stupid about it. Honest.

3) Dog walkers with half a dozen dogs of which too many, go postal at dog parks. More on the stupidity of allowing multi-dog walkers at dog parks, later. It’s a whole other blog. I’ll link it here when it’s written.

4) Owners and dog walkers who have aggressive or badly behaved dogs hauling them around on leashes inside dog parks.. And you’re there with that dog, exactly, why?

5) Owners who feed my dog treats without permission. Owners that think one treat = half a pound of cookies that give my dog the runs.

6) Owners that don’t grab their dog and haul it off when it’s committing a bullying offence such as snarling, mounting, t-boning, toy guarding and gang-banging other dogs.

Some are on cell phones, notebooks or other gadgets while others sit on a bench and yell “Fido! Stop, Stop, Fido Don’t! Fido Come back!” [like the dog is listening] then shoot me dirty looks when a slow old lady with arthritis tackles their dog by the collar and yanks it off. Call out once, if the dog doesn’t obey get off your ass and remove your dog. Otherwise, learn to use a remote collar but DO SOMETHING.

7) Dog lovers who tell me my dog looks “sad” because he’s laying down doing a “head too” [head on his paws].

8) Dog owners that don’t pick up their dog shit. And yes, LITTLE dog shit is still dog shit.

9) Dog owners that bag their dog shit then leave toss the dog shit bag on the ground or worse, hang the bag on a tree branch because a garbage bin is more than three feet away.

10) Owners that tell their kid to wave their hand in a fist under my dog’s nose is the correct way to introduce themselves to a dog. {For the record, the correct way to meet a new dog is to stand slightly sideways, look/speak with the owner and ask if it’s okay to approach then let the dog sniff you. At this point a proper dog owner will usually “sit” or “down” the dog, then tell the kid when it’s okay to pet the dog.}

11) Owners that screech at their dogs or holler commands. And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not only women that think “louder” = more effective.

12) Owners who say, “Let the dogs sort it out.” Guess what–dogs often don’t “sort it out”. Many can’t sort out NOT to hump or play tackle a dog with dysplasia, or joint problems or who are not feeling well or who might be young, nervous or rambunctious. You know what pack animals who are not well-trained do to weak or unstable {and particularly “outsider”} animals? They KILL them. Watch National Geographic for a change, people.

13) Dog owners who tell me that my dog looks scared on the bus because his ears are back and his eyes are closed. I didn’t know scared dogs fell asleep. Thanks for the revelation, Dr. Dunbar’s Lost Assistant.

14) Owners that tell to use their training method is when I didn’t ask their opinion.  Even when their dog is a complete putz and can’t follow a basic command without being told three times, or is growling or leaping at MY dog.

Especially annoying if their dog is over three years of age and the owner is still walking around with a pocket full of soggy dog treats or clutching a toy like it’s the last life preserver on the Titanic. If the dog cannot behave in public without a whiff of liver snaps or waving a toy in its face past adulthood–it’s either in the first stages of training or someone is doing something wrong– no matter what training method is preferred. There’s a reason treats are not allowed in any trials of dog behaviour whether they’re therapy dogs or in the CKC ring.

Don’t believe me? Research sled dogs, protection dogs, guard dogs, Schutzhunds, guide dogs, sheep dogs, racing dogs, hunting dogs and practically any other working dog on the planet.

Sometimes they are successfully trained with food/toys/clickers but they’ll still perform admirably without them.

I just wanna see Fluffykins manage without bribery or correction before I take a stranger’s advice.

14) Owners using extenda-leashes. Most dangerous dog device evar. [http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2009/03/retractable-leashes-pose-problems-for-people-and-their-pets.html] Just. Say. No.

*********

  • Dogs Observed: 10
  • Dogs Walking Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Dogs Heeling Off Leash: 0
  • Dogs Recall: 1
  • Good Companion: 0
  • Basic Obedience: 0

The Great Dog Training Debates–An Open Letter To Dog Trainers

Dear Dog Trainers:

Please. Just. Shut. Up.

I don’t visit dog forums any more. They’re a quagmire of the worst in human bullying behaviour. I keep getting invited to Dogster and other boards because I  Eisenmann educated dogs and it’s a dying art, sadly. I’ve been on enough dog forums now to dread them. My blood pressure is low and I’d like to keep it that way.

Here’s the standard post:

Average Dog Owner: Fido jumps on people at the door. How do I make him stop?

Sensible Dog Owner: I taught mine the “place” command. I laid down a little piece of carpet and no matter what, he’s not allowed to leave it [Alternative version] I taught mine by putting a leash on him and making him sit quietly while I greet people. Practise. Be consistent.

Immediately after this, the entire post is swarmed by professed dog trainers [and it’s the intertubz, the owners have no idea how many of them are or have been, legitimate professionals] most shilling some brand of psychobabble while they one-up each other. Buried in there somewhere might be a whit of common sense.

It goes on, sometimes for hundreds of pages. Flame wars erupt.

Poor Average Owner is overloaded with conflicting information, guilt, shame, cookies, clickers, check chains, head halters, prong collars, remote collars vs. shock collars, operant conditioning, R+ vs. 4 quadrants of conditioning, balanced vs. purely positive, corrections, marker words, aggression vs. fear biting, superstitious behaviour, possible secondary behaviours, probable outcomes, distraction, proofing, redirecting, positive rewards, negative rewards, withholding rewards, pressure, pack leadership, dominant dog theory, reactivity, co-operative pack theories, scientific surveys conducted in sterile laboratories, junk science research, unsubstantiated observational research–YOU GET THE PICTURE?

After a few pages of this nonsense Sensible Dog Owner and Average Dog Owner leave the thread.

Here’s a revolutionary concept.

Just. Shut. Up.

First off, anyone so stupid they can’t teach a dog, with whatever method, how to lay down in one place or sit beside them, which is pretty basic stuff–isn’t likely to have a dog in the first place. A ten year old can figure this out and if they can’t I’m sure they can point their parents to a few YouTube videos. Short of pounding the stuffing out of Fido which most dog owners won’t do, chances are they can teach “place” or “sit”. They just needed to make the mental leap to get from “making Fido stop” to “what could Fido do instead?” and being consistent.

Average Dog Owner doesn’t care about your method, or your theory or your conflicting research studies.

They just want Fido to stop jumping on Grandma THIS WEEK and preferably TODAY. They’re not being lazy–just like everything else in life, results talk and bullshit walks.

It gets even worse if some poor owner says, “Fido bit the neighbour.”

Good thing the intertubz doesn’t depend on paper because there wouldn’t be a tree left on the planet from reams written about what to do because Fido chomped the guy next door.

Just. Shut. Up.

If you can’t write it on a post-it note, save it for dog theory discussion forums, not owners.

You know what I tell people on this one?

“This can likely be fixed. Find the closest place that trains police dogs. Call them. These trainers have vast experience with biting dogs and are familiar with the equipment to help. Meanwhile, whenever Fido is outside muzzle the dog and keep him on a leash at all times. Here’s a video link on how to fit and use a muzzle properly. If you can’t afford the rates or such a trainer’s not available let’s find you a suitable alternative.”

No matter what advice someone gives in this scenario, obvious problem is obvious.

If Fido bites again not only will Fido be homeless, so will Average Dog Owner and family from the resulting lawsuits. Never mind the fact that Fido is now a societal risk. Average Dog Owner at this point is scared. Solve the immediate problem. Alleviate the panic with something proactive and sensible they can do NOW. Average Dog Owner wants results. Average Dog Owner doesn’t care about your pet theory. Average Dog Owner just wants to save Fido’s life, keep everyone safe and not lose their house.

No matter what the ensuing dog trainer howling is about–a dog trainer with experience in fixing dog biting problems needs to look with a practised eye at THIS dog and THIS owner and THIS environment before Fido becomes a public menace and is euthanized.

I’m going to let dog trainers in on a little secret. For free. For the betterment of dogs everywhere.

According to my survey which is almost 90 average city dogs at this point, the vast majority of people are NOT training their dogs to be good canine citizens.

So while you all are arguing theory online, less than 10% of owners actually train their dogs to a basic level [walk nicely on lead, come when called, don’t snarl, bark, lunge or bite at other people/dogs] –-90% of your potential customer base are doing nothing productive regardless of your methodology.

I have to wonder how many of them are paralyzed with guilt because they read so much conflicting advice and so much nonsense about “that method will mess the dog up” that they’re terrified to try anything at all.

Average Dog Owner isn’t on the intertubz forum for days on end. They’re busy being dragged down the street by their dog. Just look out your front window.

So who are you selling to? Each other? People who are addicted to dog training? Only those owners who are now in the midst of a crisis with their out-of-control dogs?

Your time might be better spent convincing those 90% of dog owners that their dogs could contribute far more to their lives, their families’ lives and the general public if they were better behaved then telling them in plain English how  you can help them accomplish that goal.

NEWS FLASH:

  • Dog owners don’t want to be talked down to, patronized or academicized.
  • Dog owners don’t care about theory.
  • Dog owners don’t care about methodology.
  • Dog owners with a problem just want a solution. They want to be heard.

Dog Owners want reasonable results, for a reasonable price, in a reasonable amount of time.

Which is reasonable.

*****
Today’s Dog Survey
Dogs Observed: 7
Dogs Walking Nicely on Lead: 3
Walks Heeling Off Lead: 0
Recall: 0
Good Companions: 0
Basic Obedience: 0

All Dog Parks Are Not Created Equal

Cougar me Lady Labrador, Cougar me!

It’s more accurate to say that “Not All Dog Parks Are Frequented by Equally Responsible Owners.

So, I was off to meet a friend near Allen Gardens. Seemed like a good fit to take The Drama Prince to the dog park while we were there.

The first thing I noticed was unlike Greenwood, when I laid the DP between the gates to calm him he was not gang-banged before he even got inside the second gate. Obviously, the owners had taught their dogs not to rush the doors. YAY for the owners!

Due to his last dog park experience, DP was hesitant. He wandered alone for the first few minutes until Lady Labrador zoomed by. Then of course, he was in love.

There was a fountain that the dogs drank from and played in. That was a nice touch, too.

Another observation: That although there were many more dogs available, there was little bullying. Occasionally a dog humped and was scolded by its owner. Once I even hauled the Drama Prince off Lady Labrador. Good behaviour and much fun went on for hours until Big Black Dog with a haltie came in. Big Black Dog was young, and very large and again, one of those clueless owners who sits on a bench and does nothing.

I don’t understand those that say, “Let the dogs sort it out.” I hear that sort of thing often.

The last time a man said this,  I asked, “Have you ever broken up a real dog fight? Where one dog is fighting for its life and the other intent on killing it?”

The answer is invariably, “No.”

“Well I have. Humping then snarling are often the way they start which is why pushy behaviour can’t be allowed. Someone has to run the pack and it can’t be the dogs.”

I don’t get it.

Would the same people allow these behaviours if they had five dogs living in their house? Five big, honking, guard-type dogs? I have, with no major fights.

Another pet peeve today is those that, without asking–just let their dog come flying up to mine [leashed or not] while he’s on command. Then when I block their dog from touching him with my arm–they looked at me as if I just punched their beloved FuzzyBuckets in the face.

I had to tell one lady at a bus station of all places, to pull her dog back from crawling up the Drama Prince’s butt while he was laying on the platform. Did she really think it was a good idea for Fluffykins and a big sled dog wrestle and play chase on lead with elderly and disabled people standing all around?

Stupidity abounds.

I didn’t count good dogs at Allan Gardens because my eye was on the Drama Prince.

However I did run into a number of dogs at the park late at night. It was actually a red letter day for good dogs, there.

The Bouvier Sister’s owner took one puppy class with treats for his first Bouvier. With the Bouvier Sisters, he used Martingale collars as well as a sound remote collar to teach recall and to stop counter surfing. Both dogs walk well on lead and will stay with him off lead. Both come when called although only one could pass a Good Canine test. The other barks and guards him from other dogs and people in hats.

Today’s dog survey:
Total dogs Observed: 10
Walked Nicely On Leash: 4
Recall On Command: 4
Could Pass Good Companion Test: 2
Could Pass Basic Dog Obedience Trial: 0

Tell YOUR Dog To Stop Raping MY Dog

EEJIT ALERT–not the dog, the OWNER

Last night my friend and I decided to take The Drama Prince to a dog park. We went at dusk because we figured there would be fewer dogs so he could manage better in a smaller pack.

Although excited by the dogs running around, he learned to sit quietly inside the gates for a few minutes. On the other side of the gate was a Brindle dog that outweighed him by at least 10 lbs. The woman dragged her dog away from the gate. We opened it.

DP shot in the gate with wild abandon. Doggy Disney world! Whoo Hoo!

He wasn’t in the gate 30 seconds when Brindle leaped on his ass,  growling. The DP, being as fast as he is, shot out from underneath.

The Drama Prince did all he could to avoid Brindle but Brindle kept chasing and stalking him all around the dog park. At one point with the growling and humping as DP was squirming for freedom I lunged into the middle and pointed at the Brindle. “YOU! GET THE FUCK OFF MY DOG!” He did. The Brindle then came up to me wagging. I said, “sit”. He sat. I petted him.

If dogs were people I wonder if he would have said, “Thank Dog. Someone with a brain. I really hate being an asshole. Tell me how to stop.”

This, however did not stop Brindle from terrorizing the DP again, chasing him all over the park trying to rape him again. The only thing DP had going for him was speed and dexterity. It was a losing battle due to the confinement of the fences.

A small pug came in. The DP loves little dogs. He trotted over to play with Pug.

Brindle jumped him every time he tried to play with Pug. Now the DP was getting upset and his fun time in dog park was not turning out to be fun at all.

All I could think of is, “Why is this owner so stupid? Can she not see that growling and humping are dangerous, dominant behaviours that need to be stopped before her dog is put down and someone else’s dog is mutilated?”

At this point, Brindle grabbed to hump, the Drama Prince deked out from beneath, terrified. His bad leg skidded and he limped away.

Another dog, seeing he was injured–dashed over and body slammed Brindle onto his back. As far as the Big Dog was concerned, Brindle had been told off, end of story. Big Dog walked away. That’s what I call “a sensible dog” keeping the pack stable. However, Brindle ran forward to pick a fight with Big Dog. He kept trying to hump Big Dog who was having none of it.

I said to my friend, “This is a dog fight waiting to happen. Big Dog isn’t going to continue to put up with this and he’s going to have a go at Brindle, because Brindle is egging on a fight. We’re leaving.”

I guess Brindle’s owner heard this and finally went over and got Brindle. Obviously, he didn’t have a recall with other dogs as distractions. She leashed him up and left. Drama Prince played happily with the Pug and Big Dog went back to chasing his ball with the occasional spin around the park with The Drama Prince.

Now where this falls down for me is: why wasn’t that woman disciplining Brindle? Dogs don’t learn to be sensible on their own. The Drama Prince used to hump because he saw other dogs do it. I used to wade in and drag him off, even if the other dog was good-natured about it because there is only so long another dog will tolerate it before it descends into a dog fight.

On a happier note.

On the way to dinner I finally saw an obedience trained, perfectly ring heeling down a busy main street, off lead dog. He was wearing a check chain And yes, ladies and gents–it was a white pitbull!

I was so excited I yelled out, “Now there’s a man who should own a pitbull. In fact, he should own half a dozen of them!”

Beside him was another fellow walking a Mastiff on a prong that must have weighed in at 160lbs doing a perfect on-lead ring heel.

Wow, I was despairing of finding good dogs and there they were–right across from the chip shop, being awesome.

Unfortunately there was no way at that time to stop and talk to those fellows for an interview but I think we can safely assume that White Pitbull came on recall.

Dogs Observed: 8
Dogs Walking nicely on lead: 2
Dogs Walking Offlead: 2
Dogs With Recall: 2
Dogs Passing A Basic Good Canine: 3
Dogs Passing Basic Obedience: 2

Thy Name Is “Guilt”–the Dog Training Industry

Yes. I’m sitting on command at a dog beach with 30 dogs flying around.
Yes, my owner is holding the leash as I learn not to leap at other dogs.

I’m mired in guilt  I’d love to hear from other dog owners struggling with the same guilt.

Here’s some dog training advice:

Don’t train the dog when you’re cranky.
Train the dog twice a day whether you feel like it or not.
Give the dog treats.
Don’t give the dog treats.
Fade the treats quickly.
Fade the treats slowly.
Use a clicker.
Use a marker word. You might forget your clicker.
Don’t use a training collar. They hurt the dog.
Use a training collar. They don’t hurt. {I can attest that training prongs do NOT hurt. I tested them on bare skin on myself and a friend. There’s only a sense of pressure akin to squeezing your hand. We did not wear extra fur coats to test the theory}
Dogs are pack animals.
Dogs are not pack animals.
Dogs live in a hierarchy.
Dogs are communal.
Be your dog’s friend.
Be your dog’s parent.
Be your dog’s leader.
Use this toy/treat/device/system that costs hundreds/thousands of dollars to train/exercise your dog.

That’s just a small portion of the contradictory advice given by professional dog trainers. The scary part is how many of them can’t train their own dogs and in some cases, don’t even own one. Or they have hundreds of videos training their own dogs–often easy-to-manage breeds and often brought home as puppies. Those that rehab dangerous/difficult dogs often won’t videotape how they succeeded in saving the dog’s life because the PETA nuts would rather kill dogs than see them uncomfortable for a few weeks while they learn to behave in civilized society. Just look at the Caesar Milan uproar.

The so-called “science of dog training” is often a myth. Dozens of so-called scientific dog behaviour studies under hard questioning fall apart or are so limited in focus group and lack of owner involvement as to be patently useless to the average dog owner. Some of them, on greater inspection, turn out to be entirely fictional.

The advice handed out is often so overly complicated as to be useless to us common folk.

Most people don’t want to ring train a “heel” for six weeks. They want to take the dog potty today without getting their shoulder ripped out of the socket three times in the next 24 hours. They don’t have time to grab the clicker, fish cookies and look online for days to wade through buckets of conflicting advice when the dog is nipping the children NOW.

The dog needs exercise today or the owner can’t train it because its too hyper. However, New Dog can’t “come” consistently, yet. It’s dragging the owner to the local park. They don’t own a swimming pool or a pack of dogs to run its energy down. The local dog park might be miles away. What to do?

These are the questions that average dog owners go through every day.

So, I’m committing to a small project.

I am going to ASK dog owners that I see with well-behaved dogs–how they did it. I want to see the dog come on command in a distracting environment. I want to see the dog off lead. I want to see the dog not pulling on the lead.

If it’s a service dog–I want to question the owner as to how they maintain the training and what agency trained it in the first place.

If it’s a harder to train breed of dog or an adult rescue then we can be doubly wowed dear guilt-ridden dog owner friend, in this journey of dog discovery.

Whenever I find a well-behaved dog, I’m going to ask the people how they did it. Since most people love giving dog advice, I’m hoping they’ll answer.

I’m not looking for dog trainers–I’m looking for average owners. If I had a video camera I’d tape it, the dogs in live action, mistakes, slow “comes” and all.

I’m not believing anything online because it’s overwhelmed with people shilling their own favourite style of dog training.

Then I’ll keep track on this blog.