Sunday, April 24, 2011

Training Philosophies

There are many different dog training methods and ideologies out there.  To help you get a little understanding and be better able to pick the right trainer for you and your dog, I have listed below the three basic types of dog training philosophies.

1) Positive-Only Trainer.
These trainers will only use positive reinforcement training methods.  Trainers in this category will NEVER use corrections or punishment in their training programs.  The standard for positive-only trainers is use of food rewards.

2)  Balanced Trainer.
A balanced trainer will use positive methods whenever introducing new behaviors, customarily rewarded with food or toys.  Physical corrections are only used when all other training methods have been tried and failed.  The balanced trainer rarely has use for corrections.  To shape new behaviors, the balanced trainer will use the No Reward Marker and occasional negative punishment (removal of a reward).  
I would consider myself a balanced trainer.  I am familiar with both compulsion training and positive reinforcement.  I have seen how amazingly well positive reinforcement works for both the dog and the owner, and I always use this method of training.  Only when all other training methods have been exhausted would I try harsh methods or punishment.

I also believe that being a balanced trainer means helping your clients get a well balanced dog.  
Such Good Dogs firmly believes that all living creatures must find the correct balance of energy to be both happy and healthy. When training dogs, it is extremely important to be aware of your own energy. Dogs pick up on our energy and what we may be feeling without us even realizing they have done so. Further more, if you are unaware of your energy and try to train your dog when you are angry or frustrated, the dog will sense this and your training session will not go very well.  In fact, you can actually set back progress of your training by doing so when you do not have the proper energy and mind-set.  Life is all about finding balance.  We can teach you how to find balance for you and your dog.

3)  Compulsion Trainer.
Trainers in this category have the attitude of, "do it because I said so."  Compulsion trainers use punishments such as leash corrections to not only introduce new cues, but to train and maintain new behaviors as well.  The only motivation for the dog to comply is to avoid correction.  Compulsion trainers often use Prong and choke collars in training.  I am happy to say that this method of training dogs is now considered the "old school" way of thinking.  I would not recommend trainers who only use compulsion training methods.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Traits that may impact training.

There are many traits a dog may inherently have that can impact training.  A dog's various behavior drives have a huge impact on training (previous blog posted 3-29-2011).

Other traits that may impact training include a dog's harness and independence.

Independence is a dog's need to govern himself.  Some dogs that do not easily take direction may be born leaders.  Dog's like this are usually unresponsive and may seem pushy.  To modify a dog with strong independence, owners must develop a training drive.

Most dogs will easily take direction given the proper motivation.  Many people think their dogs are highly independent when really they only took the leadership role because their owner did not.  Keep in mind that training a dog always includes reminding him who's in charge.  This does not mean you should yell at or abuse your dog, but that you should remain firm while being gentle.

Hardness refers to a dog's pain tolerance and ability to recover from pain.  A hard dog is able to accept large amounts of pain without seeming to notice.  People sometimes describe these dogs as having "tough hides."  Harsh corrections will not usually work on a hard dog.  Training should be focused on proper motivation and positive reinforcement.
A soft dog cannot tolerate pain at all and will cry or cower at the tiniest provocation.  When training a very soft dog, owners must remember to go very slow and always remain calm.  Often it is helpful to be extra aware of your body language and movement.  Moving to quickly around a soft dog can frighten him and hinder your training.

Being aware of where your dog is within all of these traits (behavior drives, independence, & hardness) will help you design a personalized and more appropriate training program for you and your dog.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Silky Terrier

Silky Terrier

Color:  tan and blue
Height:  Males 9-10 inches/  Females: smaller
Weight:  8-10 lbs
Life Span:  12-15 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Allergies, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, epilepsy, diabetes, collapsing trachea, dysplasia.

Coat:  flat, glossy, fine, silky single coat
Country of Origin:  Australia

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The Silky is a mix of many terrier breeds, developed in Australia in the early 1800s.  This breed is very adept at killing vermin but was mainly developed as a house pet and small companion.  

The Silky Terrier enjoys being with his humans, but is not really a lapdog.  The Silky Terrier is curious, smart, friendly, and lively.  It is important to socialize this breed from a young age; as with many small dog breeds, socialization is important to ensure a dog that behaves in all situations.

The Silky Terrier is very capable of quickly winning the hearts of anyone passing by.  They are small, cute, fluffy, and soft.  Who wouldn't fall in love with such a cutie?

The Silky Terrier does require more exercise than most other toy breed dogs, but one moderate walk and a bit of playtime each day will keep this little guy happy.

Silky Terriers must be bathed regularly and brushed daily to keep from developing tangles and mats.  Many non-show Silky owners will clip their dog's hair to help keep it simple.  Often Silky Terrier owners tie the hair up above the dog's eyes.

The Silky Terrier is intelligent and is a quick learner because he aims to please his master.  Socialization is vitally important to this breed.