A Work in Progress

September 6, 2015 by Karin
Filed under: Dog Training 

Most families with dogs tend to consider their pets as family members. That said, every member of the family continues to learn throughout their lifetime. With the humans, I know that there is no such thing as a family member whose actions make their family members pleased with them 100% of the time. As a long-time trainer with canine family members, I know that the above line rings true for our four-legged family members too! Just as each human family member is unique, so are the furry family members we acquire. Let’s take a look at a great example of positive behaviour change over time.

Let me introduce my current dog. Polly is a Border Collie/American Bulldog cross from a rescue agency. She joined our family as a 10-12 month old pup about 18 months ago. To say she was “rough around the edges” would have been a huge understatement. She was truly out of control. A walk with Polly was a very eventful with her interest in chasing everything and everyone that we encountered on these walks. As a result, early on, she could only be safely walked at night to reduce the encounters with most of the objects of her over-stimulation. There are many small, wild rabbits where we live and, as Polly’s night vision is far superior to mine, we still had a rodeo experience when she spotted a rabbit. It took about 6 months for her to see the rabbit, focus on it for a second or two and then turn her focus to me, at which point she’d receive positive recognition for her impulse control. To me, that was a huge change from her early encounters that had seen her launching herself at the rabbits and nearly taking my arm off in the process! Over the past year, she has learned that nearly all the things that she initially viewed as threats are actually opportunities for her to earn positive attention. Taking Polly for a walk has evolved from something I dreaded to something that I actually look forward to as much or more than she does. She now goes for walks at anytime of the day and she loose-leash walks without tightening the leash, even when encountering other dogs, people, squirrels and even the once much dreaded rabbits!

As Polly has become more comfortable in our family, all facets of our relationship have become familiar and more workable. She has evolved into a delightful family member who is constantly learning new behaviours that are mutually beneficial. Dogs are similar to human beings in that they both do things that are rewarding to them. Both species tend to increase the occurrence of the “winning” behaviours too. Polly has been transformed from a very real candidate for euthanasia to a highly valued family member by the simple application of a positive, 100% force free training program. The benefits of this training method are numerable. Quick buy-in by the dog and steady progress make training fun for both the teacher and the student. Another benefit of this method is that once the dog has learned the behaviour, the behaviour will be offered by the dog to anyone connected to him/her. Behaviours learned in a user-friendly environment are retained for a lifetime because the dog wants to remember them and not because he is fearful of forgetting them. Both humans and animals learn best in times of pleasure, which makes positive reinforcement the teaching and learning method the best choice for both. After all, if you and your dog don’t enjoy training, you’re doing something wrong!

Pets Stay Home Training & Behaviour Consulting and Pets Stay Home Pet Pervices provide professional training that is 100% force free. Our trainers are certified by recognized international standards and use the most current positive reinforcement techniques available. We are registered, insured and bonded.


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