A kind of ‘thought for the day’
I was thinking this morning about what really separates those that succeed in training their dogs to a high standard, from those that do not.
Is it a smart dog?
I have heard plenty of people say that their dog is too stupid to train.
And an almost equivalent number that think their dog is too smart!
It would certainly be a consolation to those that fail to train their dogs, to know that it is the dog’s fault and not theirs.
But the evidence suggests otherwise.
With modern positive reinforcement training, it is possible to train far less intelligent animals than dogs, chickens for example, even goldfish, to do all kinds of things.
So that’s not it. You don’t need a smart dog to succeed in training. Any dog will do.
Is it knowledge?
You might think that the knowledge of the trainer is important. And it is.The more you know about how dogs learn and about today’s modern dog training techniques the better. Understanding how a dog changes his behaviour in response to the consequences of past behaviour is important.
But you know, there are people that really don’t know a thing about canine behaviour, and yet manage to train their dogs to a very high standard.
They simply follow techniques passed down to them from other successful trainers.
This is how much traditional dog training took place, handed down as a craft from one generation to another.
It had its drawbacks, particularly in the way that dogs were treated, but that didn’t stop people training dogs
So knowledge is helpful, but not really our secret.
Is it equipment?
You don’t need a lot of equipment to train a dog. A whistle comes in handy, but you can use your voice instead. A lead keeps your dog safe, but you can train a dog quite well without one.
A bag to put your treats in, a clicker to mark great behaviours, these are useful. But you can certainly train a dog without these too.
So no, it isn’t equipment. But what about the way we train?
Is it using the right method?
Using the right method is important.
Training positively will help no end, especially when it comes to establishing new behaviours.
But let’s be honest, many dogs still got trained the old fashioned way. So the right method is not the true secret to success.
Is it experience?
We are getting closer now, for an experienced person will have spent more time with their dogs. But it is quite possible for an experienced trainer to succeed with several dogs and then fail with the next.
Because here’s the thing.
It doesn’t matter how much you know, or how clever your techniques, or how much experience you have, if you and your dog are never in the same place at the same time
It doesn’t matter how hard you train if it is too long since your last session and the dog has forgotten where you left off.
Your dog is not going to get trained without regular input from you, total one-on-one focus from you, for at least ten minutes, at least once a day, at least four times a week.
Anything less will be a struggle.
Have you guessed?
I think you have guessed the secret by now.
The secret to successful dog training is – turning up
Ideally twice a day, six to seven days a week.
Just turn up
Turn up, with your dog, and spend time training him.
Commit to doing that for ten minutes, every day, rain or shine. And you’ll end up with a dog that is better trained than when you started.
Yes you should acquire information and knowledge, read up on techniques etc in the evenings. This will help. But turning up is the key. If you turn up, repeatedly, all the rest will follow.
How about you?
Do you turn up for training with your dog every day? Or is it a struggle to find the time. Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
You can find how how dogs learn, and how to put the knowledge to practical use by working through the training exercises in this popular recall training programme.
Total Recall shows you how use rewards effectively, and how to teach your dog to obey you in tempting or challenging locations.
It also has an extensive problem solving section.
You can check it out here: Total Recall