New information is coming out all the time about how dogs communicate, interact, and generally exist with each other and with us. Adapting to that new information and adjusting methods and techniques is an important part of our growth as trainers.
But – and this is purely my own opinion – I think we sometimes, unintentionally, make things more complicated than they need to be. I think we sometimes get too caught up in the details of things, rather than just listening to the dogs we work with. Let me give an example of what I’m trying to convey.
Look at two singers: Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion. Mariah Carey is a technical vocalist. She focuses on the technical aspects of her vocals – running scales, riffing her voice, etc. – rather than feeling the lyrics and giving that energy to her audience. Celine Dion is an emotional vocalist. She focuses on feeling the lyrics as if they are her own life’s journey, and she gives that energy to her audience. With Mariah Carey, we hear the words, but we don’t really connect with her. With Celine Dion, we not only hear the words, we also connect with them – often, on a deep and profound level. Technical versus emotional. Disconnection versus connection.
Training can sometimes be like that. Sometimes, we get too caught up in the technical aspects – going more by the book, so to speak – rather than focusing on making a deeper connection with our canine clients.
My technique has always been – and will always be – very simple. It’s highly effective, it’s easy for the dogs to work with, and it works 100% of the time. If a dog is reactive or aggressive, it takes a bit longer to take effect [behavioral problems always take a bit longer to turn around], but it does eventually have the desired results.
Regardless of which training method is used [positive reinforcement, balanced, etc.], we as trainers all have the same goal: We want our canine clients to be happy, confident, trusting, and well-adjusted. One of the ways we can provide that is by practicing making connections rather than going strictly by the book. Technical versus emotional. Disconnection versus connection.
Keep it simple, have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.