Warwick Schiller once told me working with horses wasn’t that different from raising children:
It’s all about creating a space that has discipline, consistency, and positivity. Create boundaries. Give them the freedom to make mistakes. Firm love.
Those words rang true again when I listened to three top dog trainers recently.
Some interesting sound bites follow. Can you relate them to horse work? Does it remind you of your favorite horseman or woman?
Tom Dokken, of Dokken’s Oak Ridge Kennels in Minnesota:
The three most important things in dog training:
- Having fun.
Dokken on the concept of pressure.
When we give a command like heel, we give Pressure On with a collar. When the dog performs, we take Pressure Off. Your dog is going to learn that Pressure On is something he doesn’t want. He’s going to be working for total Pressure Off.
Rick Smith of Huntsmith, in Montana:
The great American way: I want what I want. I want it right now. That’s not going to work with dogs or with any kind of training. If you know you’re a little short on patience, recognize that in yourself.
Right after no patience comes frustration.
Right after frustration comes anger.
Stop yourself before you get into the frustration stage and see it lead to anger. Put your dog away. Take a walk. Take a breath. Relax a bit. Come back and work with your puppy.
Your puppy has a short attention span. You’ve got to keep your training sessions in short sessions. Five minutes is a long time for a puppy.
Don’t expect miracles the first day, it does not happen.
Charlie Jurney, author, Finished Dog
Make it fun. Make sure the dog correlates training with fun.
Jurney credits his dogs for teaching him the most:
My dog taught me what worked and what did not work in a dog’s mind. He taught me how to train dogs and what a great teacher he was.