There are many different schools of thought on how to train dogs.
Ask three different dog trainers how to teach a dog to retrieve, and you’ll likely get three different sets of answers.
- One trainer will advocate pinching the dog’s ear.
- Another will advocate using a clicker and a bag of treats.
- The third will say that the only way is to use the dog’s natural prey drive, and that neither treat rewards nor negative reinforcement are the answer.
All of them will argue vociferously against the other two, each convinced that their way is the RIGHT way.
The argument spreads everywhere. Your local bookstore is filled with books written by trainers, all claiming to have the answer. Look on the internet and you’ll become even more confused.
“Is it okay to let my dog up on the bed? Will this foster closeness and bonding, or will this upset the pack hierarchy?”
“When my dog jumps up, is it submissive, or dominant behaviour?”
“If my dog tugs on the leash, is it because he doesn’t respect me, or because I have rewarded him for pulling?”
Every trainer has a different answer, and each is convinced that his answer is the truth.
Who do you believe?
The answer is simple:
All of them.
Each trainer knows for a fact that his or her methods work (they may be wrong about why their methods work, but that’s a different issue).
The trainer then assumes, therefore, that the other trainers must be wrong.
All of those other trainers, in turn, believe that they are right, and that everyone else is wrong.
So who is really right?
Well, at Wag The Dog, we’re going to let you in on a secret:
The trainer who is “right” is the one whose methods fit best with you, your lifestyle, and your pet.
If your current method isn’t working, try a different one!
There are a million and one ways to train your dog, and if when used consistently, all of them will work on some dogs, when used by some trainers.
But dog training isn’t something you can put in a box, and ship out to every person in the world, secure in the knowledge that it will work flawlessly.
No single method works on every dog, when used by every handler.
Every living thing in this world is a unique creature.
Dogs are as varied in their personalities as the people who handle them.
Some people are better trainers when they see the world through the lense of Dominance Theory.
Others train best when using an Operant Conditioning mind set.
The “right” way is the way that works best for you and your dog.
At Wag The Dog, we believe in finding that perfect combination which brings out the best in our clients and their pets.
Training should be fun, exciting, and easy to understand… for both you and your dog!
That’s why we offer a free consultation before we start working with you.
We want to make sure that you feel comfortable with us and our favourite methods, and we want to figure out which methods will work best for you. They may be different from your current methods, but the important thing is to ensure that you feel comfortable with the tools we give you.
So, if you live in the Tri-Cities area or the Fraser Valley in beautiful British Columbia and you are interested in finding the hidden talent in yourself and your pet, give us a call or drop us an email and we’ll set up a time to meet you!
If you like our style – and we think you will – it could be the start of the perfect partnership.
–Carol Millman, CPDT-KA, CTDI is a Registered AHT with a science degree in Psychology. She has worked both in veterinary clinics and as a trainer of assistance dogs.