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‘Sit!’ ‘Wait!’ ‘Stay!’ A lot of dog owners and prospective dog owners seem to have the notion that training is important. But have we thought about what we are training for and why? Does your dog really need to heel?

We have to look at how we live with our dogs and what trained behaviors are useful. Being able to call your dog back when he takes off is a great skill. Teaching a ‘leave it’ before he grabs that dead bird is also very useful.

Look at what terms we use for dog training: we talk about ‘obedience’ and ‘commands’. This is a very outdated way of looking at training. At A Walk in the Park, we call our ‘obedience’ class our fundamental training class. We don’t give the dogs commands, we give them ‘cues’. We want the dogs to work with us, we don’t force them to.

Teaching by utilizing cues is relatively easy. Most dogs are eager to work with us and enjoy working together. Learning something new and being rewarded for it, is a huge confidence booster!

There are two ways a dog’s behavior can be influenced: it can be reinforced or it can be punished. They can get something they like or enjoy in response to their actions or their behavior can have a negative consequence.

But punishment, meaning a consequence that will discourage the dog from doing that behavior again, can have unexpected consequences: the dog can start to distrust you, start avoiding other behaviors, start showing aggression because he doesn’t know how else to deal with the situation or can totally shut down. Punishments can damage the relationship with your dog, and who wants that?

Please contact us if you have questions about training or would like to sign up for our classes!

Dirk Broersma