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Dog Training 101~ Communication

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In dog training it is essential the trainer must earn his dog’s acceptance, respect, trust and loyalty so he may be recognized as the leader.

Most dogs will strive for dominance at one time or another, but are just as happy to be followers rather than leaders. If challenged, the handler must show the dog their place by responding intelligently and understandably with a firm, yet loving hand.

One of the most valuable assets is the dog’s innate desire to please their masters. As a dog trainer, you must realize that the subordinate has rights too and to jeopardize this by being abusive or administering punishment out of sequence will only lead to mutiny by the dog, and rightfully so. Persons who are unreasonable, inconsiderate, impatient, ill tempered or violent should not train a dog. All these behaviors will undermine your role as a leader to your dog.

Canine Communication

We know a dog cannot understand words or sentences as we understand them. They have no comprehension of the human language; they are conditioned to respond to sounds in a specific way. It really doesn’t matter which word the trainer uses for a command, just as long as the chosen word is short and unique in its sound. Which brings us to how the word is said or the sound of the command. If you teach the dog to respond to a long tone si- i- i- it, and then you tell him sit in a short tone, your dog will get confused and probably experiment with different behaviors until he finds one that works. They might guess right the first time, but they would still be guessing, not responding with confidence. So once you figure out how you’re going to say the commands, you need to say them the same way consistently.

Now that we know how we will say our signals, the next step is to condition the dog to respond to the signals in the appropriate way.

We do this initially by saying the signal at the same time we gently manipulate through physical guidance. When the dog learns to associate the command with the behavior, the guidance is eliminated and the dog responds to the command when given.

When we teach our dogs, the environment must be free of as many distractions as possible; that way when we give our cue (signal) and manipulate our dog through gentle force, (stimulus) our dog has two choices in response. He can assimilate or try to change the environment by trying to get the handler to stop by playing, growling, snapping, or biting. Or they can accommodate by adjusting to the proper position. Understanding these two choices for the student, a skillful trainer will make the choice of assimilation even more unpleasant. He will encourage accommodation by immediately rewarding the student for the desired behavior. The smart trainer will stage the situation where he is in absolute control over all outcomes; either by long line, fenced-in yard, throw chain, electronic collar, an assistant, or any other means to assist in being able to be in control of all outcomes.

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