We Believe

That the most important part of training is trust.

That dogs need clear and consistent rules and boundaries.

That dogs need to take responsibility for their behaviour and be trusted, not micro-managed by their owner.

That the perfect dog is your dog.

Raylan-Sharon-and-Sabra
Raylan, Sharon, and Sabra

 

From my column in the West Carleton Review EMC :

Puppy classes: Education for you and your dog

"Hi. I would like to bring my Lab puppy for some obedience classes. He?s very smart and knows how to sit, stay, come, and shake a paw, but he?s not very good on leash."

"No problem. How old is your pup?"

"10 months."

This conversation is typical of the ones I have with people looking for help with training their dogs. But very quickly after I started my career as a dog obedience trainer I learned that the conversation should come with a disclaimer, "not exactly as described"!

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Down means down... Until you leave the house

"But he does it at home!"

Ah, the wail of the frustrated owner! Just as the robin's song heralds the arrival of spring, the owner's lament signals the start of the second or third lesson of obedience classes.

People arrive at class, confident that their dog is going to be brilliant at the various exercises because they practiced them every day, at home. But usually what happens is when the instructor says, "everyone ask their dog to lie down", their dog looks at them like they've never heard the word before and have no idea what it means.

This is followed by echoes of "Down. Down! DOWN!" with the owners getting more frustrated and the dogs getting more confused. Just as tourists have to learn that repeating English words louder and more slowly does not help get their meaning across to the Italian fruit seller in Rome, owners have to learn that loudly repeating a command to their dog does not help him understand it.

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Why dog obedience classes don't work

"My dog did obedience classes but they didn't work."

Uh, oh. How many people hear that comment and immediately want to know where the person had gone for training so that they wouldn't make the mistake of going to the same place? Because, really, who would want to pay to end up with a dog like the one owned by the person speaking, which, in all likelihood, pulls when on leash, ignores any and all pleas to sit, jumps up on anyone who comes close, and barks for attention.

I used to think that. I'd hear a comment like that and shake my head, wondering about the competence of people who advertise themselves as dog obedience trainers.

Then I became one.

Now, if someone says their obedience classes "didn't work", I ask, "Did you do the homework?"

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