Dog training is such a mixed bag of poo poo if you ask me. Why?
I recently read a blog by a prominent trainer telling what his dog does wrong and why. Why would a dog trainers dog do anything wrong and why would he have to defend it. They were things like barking out of excitement, pulling on the leash (not hard mind you) but still pulling and something else I can’t remember.
I often hear people talk about formal dog training. What is formal training, anyway? Formal to me would be training for a competition title or something of that nature. Why are we all so hung up on getting our dogs trained. Trained for what? Why do we need to control our dogs to the point of a litany of cues… ‘sit here, ok, down, get that, sit, ok, good boy, do this, do that, now this, now that…. makes me crazy when I see people with dogs who are always under command, staring waiting for the next treat and can only settle on command or in a crate. These dogs look anxious to me, not happy and compliant.
Who really cares if your dog can SIT, STAY, COME or DOWN? If you care then you should train your dog to do these things. If you don’t care then don’t do it. If you don’t care if your dog barks then don’t worry about it. If you don’t care if your dog pulls then have fun walking this way. If you do care, then you can do something about it.
We must choose our battles in life and the same goes for training our dogs. We don’t need our dog to be a robot or do all these tricks unless we want them to. As long as our dog is a happy member of our home and we don’t mind things like barking when we get home or gets excited when he gets to go for a hike, then don’t worry about it.
The purpose of teaching obedience cues like SIT, STAY, COME and DOWN is to have a set of exercises we can do with our dog that can not only keep him safer in our busy environment, it also creates a place where we can bond with our dogs but this doesn’t mean they have to be perfect or perform like a robot. It’ just means our dog will listen to us when we need them to with out having to carry a treat bag around with us all the time. Don’t get me wrong, treats are a great way to train anything new yet once the cue is learned then we don’t need to rely on it. If it’s solid, we don’t need to keep rewarding for a well learned cue.
So, it all boils down to your tolerance level and what you feel is acceptable and what isn’t, working on the ones that matter most and letting the others go.
You be the judge and be happy with your choice. There is no right or wrong here, just what is acceptable to you.
Dog training can and should be fun so have at it.