Effective socialisation – effective training – effective reward – effective management – effective punishment – effective leadership? If you are training dogs, it should be just effective dog training!
Why I use the term “effective” so often is that I see so many people and so many dogs that have had training, socialisation, management, and other things and got nowhere.
Our board and train programs often prove that the impossible dogs are not actually impossible, untrainable or unresponsive, they have often just been exposed to IN effective training and IN effective ideologies, or possibly more politics than actual skill.
Promises were made and sciences explained but results never delivered. It is often common the dog is quite easy for us to work and not that bad at all.
Imagine the dogs that do not come here because owners have lost hope because “even the trainer can’t help”
Also you must know that if you need to change a dogs response to a stimulus, such as if your dog is aggressive to other dogs for example, trying and failing a number of times may complicate the problem further, perhaps making it more complicated or even impossible to change.
We need to correctly diagnose the problem, format a plan, teach the plan elements, and proof them, work through desensitisation protocols and retest again.
This is what effective dog training is.
People come and see me often and present me with a dog that other trainers have been working on for months and sometimes even years.
The dog is now so bad, the owners are just going through the motions, getting that last confirmation that the dog is not going to change so they can put the dog to sleep, knowing they have tried everything.
The problem often is, that we can show how the dog can work, we feel the dog can be retrained and the problem behaviours rehabilitated, but of course we now have an owner who is worn out, defeated, and cannot find the strength, courage or motivation to try again.
Sometimes we work with the dog in the initial consult and teach the owner what to do, we give them programs to practice and then see them in a follow up some weeks later.
Most people thrive, the training is working really well, they have clicked with their dog, and they and their dog are loving the process.
But, there are those that are not going as well. Maybe they were defeated when they came, maybe the problem with their dog is too big to be solved by an owner learning too?
Maybe they are super busy and haven’t had the time? Sometimes the dog has made the owner so anxious, the owner is too scared to take their dog outside the backyard.
Some dogs we see have not left the back yard in years.
It actually can be a combination of these and many other things and these seem to be more common than we would like.
Given our laws in Australia, if your dog is lunging, barking, chasing or any similar behaviours towards dogs, people or other animals, you can end up in serious trouble with the council or even the courts.
If your dog is displaying any of these behaviours, my best advice is to get help from someone who is experienced at solving these problems and can put you in touch with previous clients (not their friends) with problems similar to yours.
In this section I am going to talk about young dogs or dogs that are displaying behaviours that are highly likely to lead to aggression.
Vocalising or hyperactive / over excited to see other dogs
Dogs that value other dogs to the level that cause them to whine, scream, lunge and or generally become over excited, will often develop into dogs that display aggression which has been generated through frustration. This is extremely common in German Shepherds.
Socialisation is not play; play may be a small part of socialisation though. If your dog is playing with other dogs and will not recall to you, every time, a problem is developing.
Pulling on leash
Whilst annoying for you and your dog, the leash is becoming the piece of equipment that prevents your dog accessing rewards.
Dogs learn to lunge, pull harder, redirect, try and get to the thing they want before the owner can stop them with the leash and refuse to come when called to be put on leash.
Often the frustration experienced by the dog pulling on leash can motivate aggressive behaviour.
Nervous / fearful behaviour around people or dogs
Although your dog may not be displaying any active behaviour such as aggression at this stage, these are signs of discomfort and dogs that nip, bite or attack were only showing signs of discomfort once too.
Sometimes the lack of any interest at all in people, children or dogs may be an early warning sign.
Protecting space, food, toys, you, or any other resource
Some of the most aggressive attacks on people have come from a dog resource guarding something.
When a dog is resource guarding something, they have misunderstood the way they need to behave around it. They most often are anxious about losing this resource and become aggressive to prevent loss.
This can become over the top and dogs can become extremely dangerous in this mindset. It can also be hard to work through.
If you have a young dog, you should look at future proofing these behaviours by actively teaching the correct behaviours before the undesirable behaviours surface.
If you have a dog that is not yet aggressive but has some of the above behaviours, seek help now.
Waiting until your dog escalates into more concerning behaviours will increase the risks of something terrible happening.
I have seen it thousands of times.
If your dog displays aggression, every repetition of aggression your dog displays further reinforces aggression.
It is also illegal to have an aggressive dog displaying aggressive behaviours in public, not to mention dangerous.
If this is where you are at now, follow these steps.
- Avoid taking your dog anywhere that would see him or her rehearse aggressive behaviour.
- Make sure that your dog is not allowed off leash anywhere.
- Seek out professional help and work the problem out of your dog.
- This is too serious and important to seek out internet help from Dr Google and DIY it.
Where do you go?
There are many trainers in Australia, and other parts of the world that are super at training certain things, but that does not mean they can help you with behaviour problems.
Sadly, many will say they can help and simply do not have the experience to help and perhaps the ethics to tell you they can’t.
So, your dog is not getting any better.
Can the trainer train other breeds and dogs that have had different upbringings and temperaments? Can the trainer train you!
Often these are the reasons that the training is ineffective.
After a few lessons, the problem dog is often worse or no better, so it must be the dog, right?
If you’re a trainer, and good at something like obedience training, sport dog training, scent detection or something like that, promote yourself to the people that need that type of help, but don’t take on difficult cases unless you have experience and results to offer.
The dog will suffer if you step outside your area of expertise.
If you are a dog owner and need help, seek professionals who can demonstrate that they can and have trained dogs and people like you and your dog.
Remember there are not endless chances at changing a dogs behaviour, every failure to change your dogs behaviour further strengthens the problem behaviours.
Ideally, our purpose at K9Pro is to help dogs and their owners overcome problems they are having with their dogs behaviour.
Everything we do is focused on that very purpose…
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