I was in Woodstock last Wednesday at a new Home Dog Training client and his Weimaraner named Sergeant. Sergeant was a big and beautiful dog. Although Weimaraners are often associated with hunting, going after wild animals, guns, etc., Sergeant was somewhat of a big baby. Loud noises actually would make him run inside and hide behind the sofa. The reason that I was called out was because Sergeant never would listen to my client and loved to steal slippers, food, the remote control, etc. My client said he had dogs in the past and the methods that worked with them only made Sergeant more scared and even fearful.
Over the years I have found it interesting that when it comes to training dogs, many people feel that “one size fits all”. Just like my current client, I have often heard “I have trained all my other dogs and this one just isn’t getting with the program!” The dog owner then keeps doing the same thing over and over again expecting that the dog will finally respond. Bottom line, it never works.
I explained to my client that all dogs, just like people, are individuals. Even though there is normally a set of guidelines that they abide by, they still will respond differently to different stimuli. This same notion directly relates to their mechanism of learning and the tools that we need to employ to teach them.
For ease of argument, I further explained to my client that dog training can be thought of as “we can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way”. The easy way could be equated to treats and verbal praise and the hard way could be equated to electric shock collars or the choking prong collars. There are multiple schools of thought on these devices and people often vilify or belittle one method or the other.
I explained that the most important aspect of teaching a dog or helping them understand what is right and wrong is to get their focus and trust. This is that wonderful moment that happens and they open themselves to learning and trust. However this moment is accomplished, it will never happen if the dog is frightened, scared, or hurt.
Just like people, every dog has a different level of stimulus needed to get their attention and focus. Some dogs may only need a slight snap of the fingers or clap of the hands. Others may need a verbal direction. If on a leash, other dogs need a quick tug. There are some dogs where it may take an electric shock collar to get their attention.
Whatever tool or method is used, the one thing it absolutely, positively cannot do is to scare, frighten or hurt the dog. When this occurs, the dog will not have the ability to learn and, as a teacher, leader, and care giver, you will have miserably failed your job.
My client was using a prong collar on Sergeant and would yank it whenever he wanted his attention. I told my client that he was using a tool and method that was frightening Sergeant. Continuing to use this tool would never train Sergeant and only make him more nervous and fearful.
I began to work with Sergeant and simply used a hand clap to elicit his attention. Sergeant quickly responded with focus and respect. I had the ability to guide him to the right solution in a way he naturally understood. Bingo.
Even though most of may agree that you can’t learn when you are afraid, we are often at a disagreement as to what makes you afraid. Knowing that this is different for all of us is the answer.
You can always call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog issues. We have a lot of good dog training information at Best Dog Trainers Woodstock Georgia. Locate our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Woodstock Georgia.