A Couple of Thoughts about Getting Ready for Effective Dog Training
Any experienced dog trainer will tell you the importance of having a large toolbox of strategies to bring out the very best in your dog, along with the perseverance and patience to put the strategies to work. Most forms of training don’t require extensive use of props (just a collar and a leash) but they make use of only our voice and hands. However, the multitude of ways that it is possible to train dogs using only these two items is enormous (three, if you count your clicker.) A short walk through the dog training section of any bookstore will prove this.
By their very nature, dogs are obedient creatures deep down. They simply are programed to enjoy being submissive to an authority or “alpha” figure, but getting you to represent this figure does take time and a certain knowledge base (without which, prepare yourself for a lot of trial and error.)
So be prepared to study and read all you can. Or better yet, find an obedience school or trainer to guide you along the proper path. (There are numerous articles on this site explaining how to choose the best trainer, plus all the self-study articles you will ever need to do the job.)
The big four, all you need is: A leash, A collar, A clicker and your best happy voice
One thing you’ll definitely have to buy is a leash, as learning how to train a dog to walk on a leash is one of the key steps to effective dog obedience training. It is the most important tool you’ll ever buy. Most modern day trainers also employ the use of clicker training for dogs. Using a leash that is conveniently fitted with a clicker makes it easier for some. Teaching loose leash walking with the aid of your clicker is a very humane technique of getting a dog to walk nicely alongside its owner, through rewarding desirable behaviors. A click together with a nice treat will get attention from your dog like nothing else.
(Instructions for loose leash walking can be found on the home page of this web site)
Training Collars for Dogs
The best dog training collar is one that is generally flat and fitted with a snapping clip so that the collar doesn’t slip. The old fashioned choker chain which was used for decades, is really not the key to effective training. We have come a long way from that sort of forced training.
A valuable tool is your clicker. If you do not know about clickers or how to use them, PLEASE check out my feature article Operant Conditioning a/k/a Clicker Training . It will open your eyes to the best and most humane method of training your dog.
Your Happy Voice
This is a most important factor in developing a relationship with your dog.
Ask yourself a question? What does a happy voice sound like? A happy voice gives the persona of a relaxed, confident and cheerful individual.
As we develop into adults we become very skilled at understanding the meaning of a conversation simply by hearing one’s tone of voice. For instance; If I accidently trip a non-English speaking person carrying an armful of packages? Obviously, there is not going to be any need for me to speak his or her language to know if the words following the fall, were expressions of hostility and anger or expressions of understanding and compassion. You would have to be deaf, not to find the tone of either option very easily distinguishable.
Like the saying goes it’s not what you say it’s how you say it.
Same goes for your dog, since he does not understand your language, your voice can only mean one of three things to Fido;
1) You are Happy
2) You are Mad
3) You voice is so drone, that it is of no consequence whatsoever
A more in-depth article clarifying this subject of voice and can be found on the home website entitled “the Tone of Your Voice”.
It is this authors opinion, that your voice reigns supreme in nurturing the necessary relationship with your dog.