My style of dog training is NOT about fear or abuse, but it does require a certain level of forcefulness when it comes to using verbal commands. When you are working with a very strong-willed alpha dog you must demand that they comply – you are not asking them, you are telling them. I try to teach the owner that the power lies within your tone, not physical strength.
I have been training a Rottweiler and its owner for a few weeks now, they are enrolled in my in-home training program. We have been going out into public, giving the dog some exposure and some very good distractions. I always handle my dogs in training when first introducing any new distractions. There comes a point in the training when the owner must take the leash and get the dog to respect them the same way it respects me. Sometimes it is easy and the owner gets the job done, then there are times when they just do not want to do what is necessary.
The Rotty had a grooming date scheduled. This is usually a great way to advance the training, it socializes the dog as well as allows other people to handle the dog and introduces it to various sights/smells/sounds. This particular case it also taught the dogs owner a HUGE lesson – she had been too soft on her dog! The dog controlled almost every aspect of the visit. From not heeling properly, to lunging at people for petting and attention to barking constantly when left alone. It was the dogs first time being separated from its owner away from home so separation anxiety was an issue. But nonetheless the dogs on-leash work should have been much better. When trying to get the dog to load in the vehicle for their return trip home the owner had an ah-ha moment – she realized she needed to take control over the situation and the dog.
She found her voice, changed her tone and the dog woke up – she finally got her “Bark” on! The Rotty stopped misbehaving, focused on her as opposed to all the distractions around her and loaded up into the vehicle. This is the moment I had been trying to get to but some things have to be experienced to understand the teachings behind it. I had tried with example, I had explained over and over in a variety of different ways what I meant. But it just wasn’t clicking, it took her experiencing a disaster and being completely embarrassed for her to see what I had been saying.
I am glad she learned this now and we can move forward with making serious progress in the dogs training. Whenever I have encountered a fairly soft person I have found they need a little more encouragement to get firm with their dog. There comes a time when you stop asking and playing nice and you demand and stand your ground. That is the time when you Get Your Bark On!!