If Your Dog is Afraid, He Can Not Learn
I was in Coral Springs last Wednesday at a new Home Dog Training client and his Weimaraner named Sergeant. Sergeant was a big and beautiful dog. Although Weimeraners are often associated with hunting, going after wild animals, guns, etc., Sergeant was somewhat of a big baby. Loud noises actually would make him run inside and hide behind the sofa. The reason that I was called out was because Sergeant never would listen to my client and loved to steal slippers, food, the remote control, etc. My client said he had dogs in the past and the methods that worked with them only made Sergeant more scared and even fearful.
Over the years I have found it interesting that when it comes to training dogs, many people feel that “one size fits all”. Just like my current client, I have often heard “I have trained all my other dogs and this one just isn’t getting with the program!” The dog owner then keeps doing the same thing over and over again expecting that the dog will finally respond. Bottom line, it never works.
I explained to my client that all dogs, just like people, are individuals. Even though there is normally a set of guidelines that they abide by, they still will respond differently to different stimuli. This same notion directly relates to their mechanism of learning and the tools that we need to employ to teach them.
For ease of argument, I further explained to my client that dog training can be thought of as “we can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way”. The easy way could be equated to treats and verbal praise and the hard way could be equated to electric shock collars or the choking prong collars. There are multiple schools of thought on these devices and people often vilify or belittle one method or the other.
I explained that the most important aspect of teaching a dog or helping them understand what is right and wrong is to get their focus and trust. This is that wonderful moment that happens and they open themselves to learning and trust. However this moment is accomplished, it will never happen if the dog is frightened, scared, or hurt.
Just like people, every dog has a different level of stimulus needed to get their attention and focus. Some dogs may only need a slight snap of the fingers or clap of the hands. Others may need a verbal direction. If on a leash, other dogs need a quick tug. There are some dogs where it may take an electric shock collar to get their attention.
Whatever tool or method is used, the one thing it absolutely, positively cannot do is to scare, frighten or hurt the dog. When this occurs, the dog will not have the ability to learn and, as a teacher, leader, and care giver, you will have miserably failed your job.
My client was using a prong collar on Sergeant and would yank it whenever he wanted his attention. I told my client that he was using a tool and method that was frightening Sergeant. Continuing to use this tool would never train Sergeant and only make him more nervous and fearful.
I began to work with Sergeant and simply used a hand clap to elicit his attention. Sergeant quickly responded with focus and respect. I had the ability to guide him to the right solution in a way he naturally understood. Bingo.
Even though most of may agree that you can’t learn when you are afraid, we are often at a disagreement as to what makes you afraid. Knowing that this is different for all of us is the answer. You can contact Robin or myself at (954) 424-017 with any questions you may have. You can find a lot of our dog training articles at our Dog Training Blog at Best Dog Trainers Coral Springs South Florida. It is real easy to get a hold of us if you go to Dog Training Help Center Coral Springs South Florida. You can text or call us directly from the app if you are using your Smart Phone. It can’t be easier than that!
I have written more dog training and family safety articles at Original Dog Training Tips from Home Dog Training Coral Springs South Florida and Dog Training Documents from Home Dog Training Coral Springs South Florida. All my articles are based on my real life experiences with clients and their dogs.
Robin and I are happy to be your local dog professionals in Coral Springs and have been so for the last twelve years. I am always visiting the Vet Hospitals in Coral Springs and the rest of Broward County. When their clients need dog training assistance, they are always telling them about our successes.
If your dog is getting out of the yard, we can fix that too. We combine our dog training program with the invisible dog fence systems from Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® to assure your dog remains home. We provide a 100% free, in-home analysis and guaranteed price quote. All you have to do is go to Dog Guard Out of Sight Dog Fence Coral Springs South Florida or dial 954-472-4724.