This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I came across this one night while searching the internet and thought it perfectly expressed my own thoughts and philosophy about dog training, so much so, that I had to share.

How do I train dogs? "I train the dog I am training." While this might be ambiguous, it is true. I have been getting drilled on my training method.... so here it is - hopefully more cut and dried.

Training is about getting into your dog´s head, and understanding what motivates him, what make him smile, and what concerns him. It helps to be able to think like your dog, so that you can be one step ahead of him.

This is defined as a relationship with your dog. You understand him so well that you can think for him, know his struggles in advance, and adjust his mood as needed, to help him learn what he needs to learn to be the best dog that he can be.
Cookies cannot buy this. Corrections cannot buy this. Something this precious and this complex cannot be purchased with a cookie or a leash correction.

You should be able to laugh at him for his silly antics, realize when he is trying but misunderstood your words compared with when he completely blows you off because you are not important compared to what is going on. Or realize when he disobeyed, but gave you his all - and could give you nothing better.

You must realize when he is stressed by his environment and needs more help from you, or when he is stressed by his environment and needs to be told to grow up and act like a man.

You need to be aware when something completely alien might be going on - is he sitting really slow because he hurt himself?
So the question still remains of "What method do I use." I train the dog I am training. There is no one thing that I can do to create the beautiful relationship that I have with my dogs. I respect dogs for who they are, I believe in their potential, build on their strengths, and chip away at their weaknesses. I build a relationship with them so that they care what I think and try really hard to please me. I build them up to be the best that they can be, and encourage certain traits to hide their weaknesses. I truly "train the dog that I am training".

There are no rules for this process to take place. What is necessary for one dog might be detrimental in that moment for another. While in puppy class, I might instantly stop one puppy from dragging his owner, and I might request another owner to allow their puppy to drag them for two more weeks before we stop it. There are no absolute rules when it comes to training dogs.

Each dog has to be trained by his own criteria, working with what he brings to the table. Every dog has the same goals and directions, but we might get there fifty different ways, depending on the learning ability, emotional need and intelligence of the dog, and always considering the handling abilities and personality of the handler. Our timeline will vary as much as our methods; you can only train the dog at the speed of the dog. This is a relationship, between one dog and one human, and rules might need to be gently bent and swayed, depending upon the individuals.

This is not science. It is art. We are given a blank canvas with every puppy that we get, and it is our creation to build, alter, discourage, or deny. Each of our canvases will look different when our dogs are a year old, depending upon our feel and timing, our dreams and vision, our denial, our work ethic, and the dogs that we get.

How can you define this training method with one set of limiting rules? You can't.

I train the dog I am training.

Monique Anstee,
Victoria, BC

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