By Al Longoria
I’ve been thinking about the different tools that I carry in my toolbox that are useful when it comes to training dogs. I want you to be able understand what these different tools do and when is the best time to use them and even in what order. These tools are not always a physical thing but can also be skills that you can learn that are very powerful.
Here are some of the tools that I believe that are the most useful to people and their pets.
This is the biggest tool. It is quite remarkable how quickly dogs mature compared to humans. I can teach a dog a complex series of steps where a human of the same age may still be years away from taking on such a challenge. Even with this being the case I watch people rush a dog through the learning process and wonder why the dog is inconsistent. Give them time. I have yet to see a dog not learn something that their owners set out to teach and actually see it through. Be thoughtful, take them through the steps and let them know how much you love them each step of the way. Your dog will show you how much he appreciates your caring hand.
An architect has a grand design for each one of their works. If the builder chooses to change the plans then the work will not reach its full potential. Dogs are much the same way. When you bring your new puppy into your home, its genetics will decide how great it could be. Now you get to help the dog reach its fullest potential. Which other creature on the face of the planet is more effected and dependent on the way we treat them to reach this potential? I take this as such a unique and amazing responsibility. I like to always start training with the dog learning to focus on me. I spend several weeks solely working on this. I also show the dog that I am fun to be around. When I do that well, the dogs tend to give me their best.
A Great Play Relationship
This for me is the most fun. Bringing out the ball on a string or the tug and seeing my dogs eyes light up and the quick spring in their step is a highlight each time I do it. Even before I start to use this to teach the dog different behaviors, I can see new things rising to the surface as we start to play. It is no secret that dogs love to chase things. Having the object of that desire makes you number one in their book. If you dog doesn’t pay you much attention now, simply play with him using a toy for a few weeks and then see what kind of change you get. Most of you will be surprised to see the difference in attitude and engagement.
I think understanding who your dog is and what makes him behave the way he does is essential. Your dog is a thinking, emotional creature. Just like us he doesn’t like to be in trouble. He likes to be physical. This is at his core. He likes to have one on one time with just you. He also needs to be mentally challenged. He can experience the thrill of overcoming challenges. It is my passion to understand these things so that in turn I can help people have harmony with their pets. Learn more about your pet and then use that show him how much you care.
A Consistent Language
Much of what I do when I am training with folks is helping them clear up their communication issues with their dogs. Ask any of my clients and I am sure they will tell you I tell them to “listen with their eyes.” Dogs are constantly telling us what they are thinking through their actions. Are they wagging their tails? Are they hanging their heads? Do they lick their face when given a command? Are they spinning in circles as you come home for the day? This is their language. My language is three parts. I use commands, praise, and moment markers. Each one servers its own purpose and has its own meaning. When I think about the commands we use, I like to keep it simple. One syllable. One meaning. My verbal praise is quick, high, and carries an energetic tone. My moment makers could only ever mean one thing a piece to the dog.
As I develop these tools I can see my dog enjoying his life, reaching his purpose and truly being my best friend.
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