Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Millions Of Ways To Train A Dog

It has been said that there are a million ways to train a dog. Spend any amount of time online and you'll quickly know this is true. So how can the average girl know which way is best for her four legged friends?

I honestly have no idea.

But I'm trying to figure it out. Although there is so much science in training, training is not an exact science. You will meet people who are pure clicker trainers or cross-over trainers. Some subscribe solely to one persons philosophies while disdaining all others. And the debates can get quite heated, to say the least.

My philosophy? No one is one hundred percent right one hundred percent of the time. For sure not me! I  do think that dog training should be less about what the two legged member of the team thinks is the best sounding theory and more about what works for the four legged team member.

Each of our pups is so individual and what works for one won't work for the next. And the challenges for one will not be the challenges for another. For instance Meeka rarely barks. Except at airplanes of course! But when she does bark it just takes a little "uh-oh" and she quiets right up. But Maizey is a whole different picture when it comes to barking.

Since I needed new skills to know how to help her hit the calm button we took a lesson with a local trainer. It was invaluable. She gave us many new skills to use and helped me access some calming skills I had laid the foundation for but didn't know how to apply and use.

One of the new tools we are using is a Halti. Having never used a head halter on any dog, and certainly never expecting to use one on my little girl this took some getting used to. For me. Maizey was fine from day one and now rarely even fusses it at all. Now I know many out there in the positive world will frown on my use of such a "cruel" and "harsh" device. All I can say is results show the big picture and after hours of use now I can see it really does increase my control. More importantly it decreases her drive thus giving her more control. Along with the other things we learned in her lesson I am already seeing a quieter and more peaceful Maizey.

All theorizing aside, results are what really matter to me. Having a happy calm girl is what really matters to me. Will I keep doing all that I am now? As long as it works and keeps her happy and calm. And if it changes? Well, I'm really used to going back to the drawing board. I seem to spend a lot of time there!


Priscilla said...

A good say. I completely agree with you that every doggy is an individual and so are human beings. There is no one hundred on right or wrong either. While we are training them, we are actually learning together with them.

Thanks for your advice and Laura has her own toy now. I tried to play with her this morning while Eva was watching in her playpen. She made a lot of noise but I think she will learn to be patient somehow. Slowly but I'm sure she will learn it.

In fact, from playing with them, I learn a lot too!

katie said...

hey priscilla! It's great laura likes her new toy. If she is getting too wild in her play time you could try just dropping the toy and turning your back on her, or look at the ceiling. Then when she's calm start playing again. A sort of version of "Toy Zen". It doesn't have to be w/ a lot of fanfare, but she might get the message, "hey if I'm nice mom keeps playing and if I'm wild there's no fun anymore."

Of course if she just likes to have the toy herself you may have to put it away and make her work to get play-time back by giving you a few sits and downs or what ever.

Another good way to calm playtime is to teach a release word and then before play starts again make her work for you. Sometimes our big girls just need to learn a little control.:)

Hope it works out and every body keeps learning!

Priscilla said...

Thanks Katie, it helps a lot. I've tried to use your method with Laura but I guess it will take a bit more time. She's quite stubborn and once she has her toy, she won't let it go even if I just leave her alone. She will stay guard her toy for ages there. However, we will work on it.
I'm also glad that I start to learn how to play with them and things make more sense after that. Thanks again, Katie.

Marie said...

Glad the lesson went so well! It's really nice to have a good plan to work on.

Cynthia Blue said...

There are as many ideas about dog training, as there are dog trainers. :)

Halti's are awesome! ;)

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!