What am I training my dog for?
With the anticipation of our little Puppy arriving soon, my thoughts are going to what’s the most important thing to train first and what i want her to be able to do in our daily lives. When we think of dog training our first thought can often go to Sit , Down and Stay and dog doing as its told.
Is a cleverly trained dog, is a dog that can give you the right paw on cue, but at the end of the day what is really important aspects of training. If that dog then drags you down the road.
As a dog trainer i could get ridiculously meticulous and get my dog to do all sorts of clever things to show off some skills but what is important to me is that i can take my dog nearly everywhere and for her to be able to manage different situations and interactions. Also do this off her own back and not to get told what to do all the time.
What would be nice is to have a dog i can take to park and let off, without fear of her running off and upsetting other dogs/ people. To not rush out the door every time i open it, to not bark at strangers, to not jump up when greeted, to know where to go when I' m cooking in the kitchen, and so much more.
Training roll over, paw, step up does of course all add to the bigger picture of communication with your dog but that’s all fun to train. What’s not fun is going in and out of the front door 10 times until pup finally calms down when the handle is touched.
I’m currently working with a young dog who on walks knows the score and handles situations perfectly when he knows rewards are on the go but where he’s if all over the place is the moment you greet him and try to get out of that door.
We are a society of the quick fix and when they have jumped up and given you a black eye in the process of trying to get the lead on, then are straining at the bit to get out of the having already scratched the hell out of the door, just while you zipped your coat up. The easiest fix in that moment is get the them the hell outside quicker which results in the dog getting what they want for showing you no manners or respect what so ever. We live such busy lives and sometimes we give in and accept the black eye because your late to take them out because this and that happened, or your too tired to argue, we are late for the next job already. When actually slowing it down for 1 minute will help for nice results tomorrow.
So we don’t have to train our new puppy for half an hour every day at the same time to get results. We get results for asking for 30 seconds of calm before the lead goes on and then before the door is opened. Waiting out the jumping up until they choose to try something else, we prefer. Until they understand this how id like us to do this, we can’t just expect them to know just because it is obvious to us. Then expand that principle to everything major aspect of what we do together.
So what I’m looking to train is life skills. What do we do when a dog approaches? what do we do when a people wants to say hello? what do we do when i open the van door? what do we do when i get the lead out? what do we do when i want to watch telly!!
So back to the question, What am i training my dog for?
I’m training her to trust my guidance, I’m training her I’m fun, I’m training her to be resilient, I’m training her be respectful, i’m training her to be brave, to know how to chill out, and hopefully to ask me first.
Everything after that is a total bonus but a dog i can take everywhere is what I’m aiming for!
Picture of Shumba who at 8 years old knows all of this already and quietly lay by my side sleeping while i wrote.