I've often wondered why it is that we talk about Dog Obedience Training, but we generally say Puppy Training - without the "Obedience" phrase? Do we think that once a dog is a dog he ought to "obey", but we allow our emotions to be swayed when we say "he's just a puppy"?
Many times I get called asking for help with puppy training - my mind is thinking on a 16 week old puppy - after a few questions, I find that the puppy has grown up and is now an adolescent 1 year old dog.
So when do we stop thinking Puppy and start thinking Dog? Does it matter?
Perhaps we tend to let puppys away with more when we're training them? Perhaps we think dogs to know better? Perhaps where it goes wrong is when Puppy's are let away with too much for too long, and then we find that we have an uncontrolled dog whom we feel we need to be more strict with and demand "obedience"?
The problem with the phase "Dog Obedience" is that when we say it, we perhaps think that the dog should just do what I say - because! This may move us into a direction which says, well if he doesn't do it, he'd just better - and leads us to yanking leads, using choke chains, tapping with a newspaper, squirting sprays, rattling bottles etc. Is it just me that thinks that? If it is please do add some comments to the Pawsability Blog......
My question is tho' - is that how you would train your child? In olden days, some parents - usually from the military - were "strict". canes were used etc. But psychology has move well away from that now - it's been proven that positive, reward based methods work, far more effectively.
Another training comment which crops up from time to time, is that puppy owners are actually looking for "obedience" classes - they want something that isn't filled with tricks and games - just simple "obedience". What's meant by that ofcourse, is that you want to learn the basics, without the frills. Just to teach your dog to sit, come back to you when called, stay, and walk nicely to heel.
It would help tremendously, if we ditched the obedience phrase, and started talking about basic training, or teaching the fundamentals, and apply the same progression path, as we do when learning anything ourselves - we learn about the basics of our new "language" and then move onto explore and improve on particulr areas. When we start out training our dog or puppy what we are trying to do is to teach them to communicate. When they "dis-obey" the are not being like a belligerent child - 99% of the time, they really, simply don't understand what we're asking: they don't understand our language.
Would thinking on it that way, be far more likely to help us have more patience, and be more calm and structured about our training program?
Think too, about when you learn a language - you don't just learn in a book, or in class - you need to be out there applying what you've learned so that you can improve. Dogs need to be trained out and about too so that the class learning can be solidified and fully understood.
............well, this is an on-going topic, and I'll come back to it soon.
Ofcourse - I'm not saying anything against the thousands .... millions.... of people and dogs who are involved in dog obedience training, for fun or for competition, so please don't take offence. Dog training is a crucial and necessary aspect of living with dogs, whether this is taken to basic or advanced levels. I'm just looking for a new word......
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