Make good choices!
Probably THE most essential character trait of a dog that is easy to live with would be that the dog thinks. For decades, the perception of good dog training was that we must make the dog do what they are told, when they are told to do it, and NOTHING MORE! Our experience has shown that this leaves a huge hole in the dog’s life, in the dog’s training, and in your relationship with your dog. While it’s convenient to have a “red light / green light” dog that only does what it is told when it is told to do something, we need to remember that dogs are sentient beings just like us, not machines. If you want a “bot” – go buy one. If you want a thinking creature who will be a delight to live with, take the time to shape their thinking so it matches what is desirable in your life.
Science has proven that dogs are fully capable of making choices. Your own life experiences likely validate that point. A dog can choose to walk with you or dart off chasing another dog, a dog can choose to come when called or continue to sniff off at a distance, a dog can choose to bring back the tennis ball or to drop it ten feet away from you and make YOU go fetch it. Dogs make choices all the time so teaching the dog to make good choices (CHOOSING to do what you want them to do) becomes a far more powerful training method than expecting your canine companion to mindlessly “obey”.
It takes a while at first to bring your dog to the place of thinking for themselves, but we have plenty of games that help your dog engage with you and learn that they can earn whatever it is they love the most. By allowing your dog to choose an appropriate behavior rather than simply responding to a command, they view you as a gateway to everything that they could want – with no choice but only a battle of interests, you will constantly end up “at odds” with the shiny object, the squirrel, or the kid on a bicycle.
One of the most important and widely recognized trainers of our time is Susan Garrett who introduced the world to her “It’s Yer Choice” game. You may learn more about the game on Susan’s site: https://susangarrettdogagility.com/2018/06/why-choice-is-the-critical-key-to-a-great-dog/.
If you would like to learn more about “It’s Yer Choice” and dozens of other games that we use to help your dog become a ‘thinker’ that chooses to do what you want them to do, send an email our way and we’ll get you set up!