There has always been controversy in the way to train dogs. It appears to be even more prominent recently with the world getting smaller due to social media and video recordings every where you turn. Abuse and neglect of animals are highlighted and any misstep can be captured and broadcast. So, what is the “right” or “proper” way to train a dog?
There is no easy answer. I have always preferred positive reinforcement through the use of a chain collar. That within itself is going to get negative feedback, as it recently did with an ill-informed potential client of mine. When asked what means of training I utilized I was completely honest with them and said yes, I do use a “choke” collar. They were hesitant, stating their obvious concerns after having witnessed an individual choking and abusing a dog with one. This is not the proper use of a chain collar. If used correctly and with affection it can have great results with no harm whatsoever to the dog. I asked my client for a chance to provide a demonstration before they make a judgement call. I was able to educate them and they signed up for classes.
My goal is to teach the dog respect through love and reward. I need to find what works for each dog to achieve that goal. Some dogs like treats and that works in conjunction with the leash/collar. Some dogs like toys and that can be a great tool to achieve the desired response as well. Other dogs are driven simply by the affection and positive attention that comes from them behaving and performing as they are required. But whatever means is adapted by me, an absolute must is to ensure the dog never looses their spirit. As I tell each one of my clients, training your dog MUST be a positive experience for both of you or it is not worth doing.
If you are in a bad mood, sick, distracted, anything other than completely focused and positive about what you are doing then it is not going to be a good session. The dog will feed off your energy and it could have dire effects on future interactions. I always try to incorporate some playtime with the dog during our sessions. I give them a good 15-20 minutes of training then allow them to be a “dog” but still within the boundaries of good behavior. This helps me build a good re pore with them and keeps things on a happy note. As my new client observed after only our first class, their dog loves to “go to work”. Once the chain collar comes out the dog gets all excited and understands what is coming next. It is a chance for the owner and the dog to bond on a higher level, challenge the dog and build a deeper relationship.
There are many techniques and equipment out there to assist in training your dog. One thing is certain, education is key before starting any training regimen or using any training tools. Proper use is a must to ensure no harm comes to you or your dog. Do your due diligence as a dog owner/lover before making any decisions. But most important, make the top priority on your training agenda to enjoy and have fun with your dog!