You need to become a Dog Trainer! You owe it to your dog.
So you have decided to add a Puppy to your family!
The first piece of advice you will normally be given is to take it to puppy classes!
Unfortunately not all puppy classes are run well and not all puppies are suited to learning in this environment and you can do your puppy more harm than good.
It has always been the way that you would get your puppy from the breeder at around 8 weeks, get all the vaccinations done and then enrol onto the local puppy class, due to the vaccinations, this is usually not done until they are 12-14 weeks of age if not older and BOOM….. you have missed the crucial learning period before 12 weeks altogether and habits have been formed that are hard to break before you have even got to puppy class!
My advice for any new puppy owner is to take one or two 1-2-1 sessions prior to even picking up your puppy to discuss what your plan is in those crucial first weeks at home will be.
- Do you have everything set up for the first day they will be arriving home.
- How best to settle them.
- You need to know, how you can best deal with toilet training.
- What your ground rules as a family will be, everyone needs to be consistent or the end result can be awful.
- What can you teach your puppy in those first weeks at home before you can get out and about.
- How can you keep them occupied,
- How will you deal with introducing to any other family pets… and to get it right you need to have a plan right from the beginning or without knowing you can teach your dog bad habits without knowing you are doing it.
Our knowledge of dogs is continually growing and there are many more scientific studies. A lot of classes are run by old fashioned trainers who do not keep up with the new ways of thinking are not always well structured and can turn into a free for all play session. This will result in problems especially if you have a highly excitable pup or a nervous pup.
There are three types of dog trainers out there. What one would you prefer to be?
- Trainer 1 – Old School – Domination over the dog
- Trainer 2 – Reward-based behaviour training
- Trainer 3 – New Games based, positive reward, concept building training for real-life results
THE TRAINER 1
These trainers get their results by using intimidation and sometimes force and punishment. They may use choke chains, prong collars, shock collars, noise bottles, sprays, etc. to force the dog to do what they want. They will raise their voice, use harsh tones and words, and try to dominate the dog.
What happens here is the relationship with the dog is damaged, there is no trust and their behaviour more often than not will be worse and the dog is scared of the owner rather than wanting to be with them.
THE TRAINER 2
These trainers are much nicer, they will use food, and toys for rewarding the dog. They teach dogs behaviours and reward for the result but they are constantly telling the dogs what to do and manage situations all the time rather than encouraging the dog to do things because they want to. It this scenario, in the home the garden, the class the dog does everything they want but as soon as they go for a walk, the dog does not listen. The dog is easily distracted by the environment (dogs, cats, people, squirrels) and can’t disengage from then.
But, the thing about Trainer 2s is that they focus on behaviours. They are constantly telling the dog what to do. They rely on the management of the situation. The dog is not taught to think for themselves.
These trainers are Game Changes they are inspired by games based training. Playing games with your dog that teach concepts rather than just behaviours. The dogs are taught concepts (tools) that they need to be able to deal with real-life situations such as impulse control, focus, optimism, arousal management, and calmness is key! They work with the dog to make good choices, the choices you want them to make, to find you more fun than the environment, they want to be with you, more than the dog across the park, or the squirrel running across the top of a fence.
This can all be done via games, there are lots of them. Developed and taught by Absolute dogs in Devon, founded by Lauren Langman a top agility trainer in the UK and Tom Mitchell a Veterinary Behaviourist. The games are taught by Certified Pro Dog Trainers to spread this new way of thinking and teaching our dogs.
The most important thing to remember is that you are your puppy’s guardian. You should aim to get the best training possible and never allow anyone to get you to do something with your dog that you are not comfortable with.