Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Training Tips - Involuntary Signal Training!

Myth - You're only training your dog when you THINK you're
training your dog.

Let me explain. Many owners set aside and plan out dog obedience
training sessions. They have a set time, gather their set tools (all manner of
treats, clickers, leads), and go to a set place (the backyard, the park, or
even the weekly dog training class).

This is great! These owners are doing much better than those who believe
that a daily pat on the head or a steady salvo of "SIT!" commands every
now and then amounts to a successful dog training regime.

But what many caring dog owners either don't realize or simply don't put
into practice is the fact that you are effectively dog training
whenever you are with your dog.

Your dog is picking up on your verbal and non-verbal cues all of the time.
If you spring up and run to the phone every time it rings, you are training
your dog that it is ok to spring up and run around whenever he hears that
ringing sound.

Let's say you are relaxed at night when you get home from work, but
totally stressed out in the morning. You are basically training your dog that
there is a reason to be stressed out in the morning (not so good when you
are about to leave them alone for a while).

If you get nervous each time you pass by the neighbor who walks their
Great Dane on the other side of the street in the morning, you are training
your dog
to be nervous if the Great Dane is in sight.

Remember, even when your signals are not directed at your dog, your
dog picks up on them. There is no line that separates formal and informal
training. You are training your dog even when you are not "training" your
dog. This is what I call "involuntary training." It just happens.

The important thing is to try to recognize moments when you can make
this involuntary training work for you.