Dog’s Eye View: Training is a lifestyle
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
I had a client a while back who phoned me a few months after a consultation training session. She was fit to be tied.
“My dog has forgotten everything you taught him!”
At first, I was a bit surprised. I went back through my client files and found we had met one time several months ago. I called her back to discuss the problem.
“Well,” she said. “It worked for about a week, and then he stopped listening. He started chewing, and his potty training fell apart.”
As I asked more questions to get to the bottom of the cause, I realized that she had not followed through with the training we started. After I left the original consultation, she stopped the practice. She believed that, in one session, he should be adequately trained.
Oh, dear. She was working on the misconception that training was over when I left her house. I asked if she played a sport, and her reply was “yes, I play tennis.”
I asked her how often she plays and to rate her skill level. “Well, she said, I start when the snow is gone, and by the end of summer/fall season, I’m pretty good at it.”
“OK,” I replied. “How often to you practice?”
“At least three times a week. I love it!”
Then your tennis training becomes a part of your lifestyle. And you work at it to become good at it.
If you have a dog, it changes your lifestyle. Without a commitment to training, exercise, social outings and affection, your dog will lose touch with you. Training must become a part of your lifestyle. Why would you get a dog and not fully include him in your lifestyle?
He is a sentient being with needs that include being a companion. He is intelligent and social but needs to be taught how to get along in your world. Your relationship should be built on continuing education for both of you. Training makes communication. It sounded to me like there was no relationship building going on in this family.
Left to his own devices, he can only make up the rules that apply to his well-being. When you have a toddler in the house, each day includes spending time showing them what is safe and what is not. Each day you move toward those small steps in teaching cooperation. You read to enhance their vocabulary. You play with blocks to improve coordination. You smile and laugh and make happy noises to babies.
If you want your dog to become a member of your family, then treat him with respect for his needs. Teach him the rules for living with your family. Don’t just yell “NO!” Introduce him to new sounds, textures, people, smells and what companionship means to you.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 30 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants as well as Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She owns Total Teamwork Training in Northwest Colorado.
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