Dog training techniques vs understanding
I was thinking about dog training techniques today as being like a “strategy” to get your dog to behave how you would like them to. Unfortunately this approach is very rarely successful, or the success is short lived. This is because strategy without understanding is of very little use.
In this case if we are trying to use dog training techniques without the understanding of what is going on for our dogs (e.g. they are feeling stressed, releasing a large amount of adrenalin), then our strategy is going to have little/no effect. If we can look from their perspective, understand what is going on for them and wait until they are ready before we try to use our strategies, we will get much better results… (or might even find that our strategies are superfluous).
A different approach
Us dog listeners take a different approach to traditional dog training/behaviourists. Our focus is on helping you to understand what is going on for your dog, so you can empathise and have the right amount of patience and respect for them. When the understanding of what is going on for our dogs enters our human psyche we can start to prioritise their needs over what we think they should be doing. This is when dog training gets much easier.
When we see their perspective we know simply to wait until they are feeling calmer before we trying to use any of our dog training techniques on them. If a dog is feeling stressed, or surging with adrenalin then they are going to find it very difficult to walk to heel (for instance). 9 out of 10 owners will then stop trying, believing that their strategy (the dog training techniques) does not work for their dog. The truth is that the dog just isn’t ready. When we understand that, we wait. Then, when the dog is ready, we try again.
A practical example
Often I have people contact me whose dogs “won’t listen”. So their perception is that the problem is that their dog isn’t doing what it should be, and they need a strategy to get their dog to listen to them. On further investigation, it turns out that the thing that the dog is doing when it “isn’t listening” is connecting to the dog’s belief that there is something more important that needs doing in that moment.
E.g. the dog you’ve just met on the walk needs warning to stay away. Your visitors need dominating so they don’t cause you harm. Your dog needs to remind you who is in charge (and it’s not you – sorry!) to clarify who is looking after the pack.
When we can understand what’s going on, we can take a different approach and work on showing him/her that you are the responsible one. When our dogs get clear on this, they calm right down, so they don’t feel the need to be dominating our visitors, telling other dogs to go away – so on and so forth. Yes we might need to deploy a little bit of strategy from time to time while this new understanding is taking shape, but if we always look at what is going on for our dogs first, we can make the right decision.
So now you understand that you need to understand your dog, what’s next?! Well you can read “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell, which will give you a good grounding or you can call in your local Dog Listener to teach you as a household what you need to do. Personally I am based in Leigh on Sea, near Southend in Essex. I do cover the whole of the county and beyond, so please get in touch.