Several years ago on a whim, I brought home a German shepherd puppy. Having no idea what to do with this bundle of energy, I took her to a puppy class. The trainer was very impressed with her brains (not necessarily with my handling) and spread the word that she’d had a remarkable puppy in her class. Not long after, I got a call from a local police department. "Would you be interested in having her assessed for police k-9 work? "they asked. “Sure, “ I said, “As long as she comes home at night.” When they explained I’d have to give up my dog, I told them no thanks, but I resolved to see that she had something to do. She was too good of a dog to waste. The reality ,though, was that I had no idea what to do with such a smart dog who really needed a job. I did her a big disservice by turning her into a poorly trained family pet. I had created or put up with behavior problems that ran the gamut, and I felt as if I’d failed her. Since I couldn’t give up living with dogs, I decided to stop stunting their lives and learn to train them, both as pets and as workers.
What I’ve learned, in addition to techniques and behaviors that make dog training very doable, is that our dogs really want to please us, and we can use that to our advantage.. Unfortunately they don't automatially know how to please us because they and we do not speak the same language. When dogs learn what is expected of them and they know that we mean what we say, we end up with a well behaved dog and a wonderful companion. It takes some training, time, and patience, but the end result is more than worthwhile.
Martha Wright, owner of Dog Star, has loved dogs forever, owned them for 30 years, and been training them for the last 11 years. She has certified dogs in basic and advanced obedience, Canine Good Citizen, Therapy Dog, and Search and Rescue Live Find. She lives with XENA, a German shepherd and certified police working dog and member of the Ohio Search Dog Association, and STELLA, a goldendoodle and registered therapy dog.
Training methods and the terms that are used to describe them are the source of a lot of controversy today. I am often asked if I am a positive dog trainer. The answer to that is, of course I'm a positive dog trainer. All decent, humane trainers are. But a dog cannot be trained if he does not see his owner as his leader, regardless of the method used. To end up with a well-behaved and balanced dog in ALL situations, your dog needs to know that YOU are the leader, and you expect him to behave. Leadership is a skill that can be learned. Dogs are happier and far less stressed when they know what is expected of them and who is in charge.
The first step is to teach your dog what you want with gentle guidance so she learns basic manners. No dog can be expected to perform a behavior that she's never been taught. When she gets it right, she should get tons of praise. When she gets it wrong (but knows the correct behavior), she needs to be corrected in a consistent and humane way. Dogs are individuals, and cookie-cutter techniques don’t work any better for them than they do for their owners. Training works best when the methods fit both owner and dog. What's most important to me is that you get what you want from your dog training. My goal is to provide you with the tools for a happy, well-behaved, and calm dog that you are proud to count as a member of your family.
Your dog wants to please you, but he doesn't know how, because you and he are not speaking the same language. We can help you translate.
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