Friday, August 04, 2006

Dog Training

Dog training is the process of teaching a dog to exhibit certain desired behaviors in specific circumstances. Some examples are:

The specific behaviors taught in each case are different, but the underlying principles are similar.

In the wild as pack animals, canines have natural instincts that favor training. These instincts are manifested when the dog lives with humans as a desire to please a handler, as a dog would please senior members in a pack in the wild. The handler is simply whoever is working with a dog at the time.

Most dogs, no matter their eventual advanced training or intended purpose, live with people and therefore must behave in a way that makes them pleasant to have around and for their own safety and that of other people and pets. Dogs do not figure out basic obedience on their own; it must be trained.

The hardest part of this process is communicating with your dog in a humane way that he understands. Dogs generally want to make their owners happy, but they do not natively know what their owners want. Communication is possible by praising positive behavior while ignoring or correcting negative behavior.

"Correction" should never include harmful physical force or violence (i.e., no rolled up newspaper) because even if it makes the dog stop the behavior in the short term, it will make your dog fear you rather than want to make you happy by doing what you ask (yes, he wants to make you happy, he just doesn't know how sometimes... training is the process of letting him know what you want and repeating that communication, behavior, then praising his good work). Correction technique varies by individual and among trainers. A simple technique is to attach a collar and "lead" (fancy term for a leash, usually short, 4' is good); JUST AS the negative behavior happens use a command to correct it (i.e., Sparky is jumping up on a guest, say "off" if he's already jumped up, or if you see he's thinking about it say, "down"). If the command is ignored then "correct" Sparky by "snapping" (not pulling/tugging/yanking) the lead to make his collar rattle. Snap from the side, never from above; snapping from above can injure your dog and will make him resist rather than just show him that you disapprove of the behavior.


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