targeting success

Targeting success in dog training

At K9Pro we measure our success based on how our clients feel about the services we provide. We spend our days targeting success, read on to see how you can do the same.

In other words, when clients are able to get the changes in their dogs’ behaviour that they need, this is how we measure our success.

Everything else in the business is designed around this very ideal.

Now whilst we enjoy a very high rate of success, every now and again things don’t work out the way we want them too.

The end result is not what we or the client wanted it to be.

Whilst common sense tells us that “you can’t win them all”, we do invest quite a bit of time and research into how we can shrink this small (but important) percentage even further.

Targeting success

First, I want to highlight what the successful people do that makes them successful.

It is quite clear to me that there are certain elements that need to be given priority and other elements that should be discounted if you really want to have success.

Goal number 1 – manage the unwanted behaviour.

This means do NOT allow the dog to rehearse the behaviour you are trying to stop over and over as this will just reinforce it.

When we start the rehab of a dog that is aggressive towards other dogs, we do not take this dog places where it will have ANY chance at rehearsing the behaviour until we have other training elements in place, and they are trained to a reliable level.

An example might be, the dog in question is aggressive towards other dogs.

I advise the owner to work hard on training the training elements at home before venturing back into stimulating areas where the dog may rehearse the undesirable aggressive behaviour.

Those that fail keep walking their dog on the same locations practicing the same explosions each time a dog is encountered.

When I ask them why, I hear many reasons, but here are a few: –

  • The dog needs exercise
  • I felt guilty
  • The dog likes to be walked
  • It is inconvenient to walk one dog and not the other
  • I walked him / her where I thought there would be no dogs (but there were)

All these things certainly are a consideration but prioritising these over the actual goal will mean failure.

The kindest, most effective, most efficient and safest plan is the one I provide.

Another may be a dog that is aggressive to visitors, I advise crate training so the dog can be physically safe as can the visitors.

The majority of client’s crate train their dog and marvel how much their dog loves the crate and how much better the house runs with a place the dog can go when stressed, a place to call his or her own and a place that means the dog is unable to rehearse the behaviours.

There are others that do not crate train their dogs. I hear…

“The house is set up the way we like and don’t like the crate in the house”

“We don’t need the crate because we tell the visitors not to look at the dog, make eye contact, make any sudden moves, stand still if the dog tries to attack…”

“The dog would not like a crate”

And the list goes on.

The majority of people who break a leg or arm get a cast, not sure how many of them find it convenient, attractive, comfortable nor do they like it, but of course without it, your leg or arm will not heal correctly.

There is a message there…

Again, lack of management allows the dog to keep rehearsing the behaviour you are trying to stop because the solution given is not applied.

Goal 2 teach the correct behaviour

Most dogs with aggression problems don’t actually know how to behave any other way or how to control their emotions, so I feel this is a highly important step to changing a dogs behaviour.

Teaching and training the correct behaviour must be done to an effective level.

So at times whilst the teaching component of the behaviour is not often difficult to teach, training the dog to display this behaviour under distraction often requires a person with reasonable experience.

With my clients I will often teach the exercise in consult and decide the most effective strategy for the dog and owner. The client is given a written program to follow on with at home.

This will of course mean they need to observe and follow the management part of the program and train their dog to a level of competency so that we can move on at next consult.

We can help with this component also, but it is essential.

This is the process that has proven successful with hundreds of thousands of dogs throughout my career.

Designing a plan which breaks down the elements into pieces that you and the dog can master without being compromised by distraction are what is known as focussing on the target.

Teach and train peices that will form the total solution in the end.

Aiming at the wrong target

As I mentioned earlier in this article, not everyone enjoys success after coming to see me, whilst it is a small percentage, it is a very important area to investigate.

It would be easy to write articles that claim “100% success” and “I guarantee that …” but dogs are living, thinking animals. They make choices, you wont always agree with the choices they make. Their health, both physical and mental come into the fold in each and every choice they make.

There is a genetic influence also, also their previous education or the lack of plays a role, so being honest means that I will share with you wins and losses and try to help minimise the losses.

Although most clients would say outright, all they are looking for is an effective training and behaviour modification solution, some stipulate “how” this success should be achieved and how it should not be achieved.

They may like to limit the use of certain training aids, and although certain pictures might spring to your mind, I will meet many people that say “I don’t want to use food”, so forget the idea that we are just talking about people who don’t like aversive strategies.

There are those that may not want to apply any restriction or manage their dog’s freedom, meaning he or she is free to roam the house or the dog park making any choices he or she feels like making.

There is a very high chance that the old lifestyle helped create or certainly allowed the undesirable behaviours to develop, so if you do not change that lifestyle, you will not change the behaviour.

This is serious stuff!

Some dogs presented to us with aggression problems are quite simple cases in which the dog is a bit overstimulated and or naughty.

A simple set of rules and boundaries taught many ways can alleviate this problem.

But there are others that range from a little bit worse than the dog in the above scenario to full blown very dangerous dogs.

You get a dog with a strong genetic pre disposition to aggression, or a very resilient dog, or a high drive dog with low sensitivity that wants to kill other animals or people, the dogs age plays a role, you may be up against a very determined animal that will not just give up on this killing career because you say please with a treat in your hand.

If you truly want to change your dog’s behaviour, and I mean change it, not avoid situations for ever, not distract your dog or manage it, but MODIFY the dogs behaviour, and you have a dog with a serious problem, you are going to need to get your head in the game.

Find a behaviourist or trainer that can SHOW you dogs that he or she has rehabbed that were like your dog is or worse, and then do what they say, don’t limit them based on your lack of experience.

This is going to mean doing one of the hardest things you will ever do, change the way you think.

Know that very few dogs are born with the attributes I describe above, but with poor training, no training, ineffective training, ineffective socialisation, training that aims to distract the dog rather than teach the dog how to deal with the problem and other ineffective strategies, behaviour problems are almost guaranteed.

This article can help you learn even more about creating an aggressive dog.

Even just a naughty dog can become much worse if you attempt to curb his or her behaviour and fail.

There are not endless opportunities to change the way a dog behaves. Dogs become resistant to training when many attempts to change their behaviour have been made and failed.

Dogs learn to resist training until the owner or trainer gives up and lets the dog pursue his or her own choices.

Bad dogs are made, not born.

Good dogs are made, not born.

The difference between which category your dog will be in is you. This is a very helpful article you may enjoy (
http://blog.k9pro.com.au/the-good-dog/ )

Board and rehab the fast way to success?

We get referrals from past clients, vets, trainers, councils and law enforcement weekly for people to send their dogs to us.

We have two main programs, 5 weeks and 8 weeks.

A quick look at our YouTube channel and the hundreds of videos will show you that we undoubtedly get some of the most aggressive dogs many people will have ever seen.

You will also see my trainers and I systematically working through programs and the real-world progress that these dogs make when they are with us.

They go home perfect never to behave badly again and totally fixed – WRONG!

We never at all try and convince anyone that years of reinforced behaviour will be erased in less than a couple of months.

There are no quick fixes, we can just train faster and more efficiently than most people.

If people think this, we help reset their expectations and focus on an achievable goal for their dog.

Now often this is more progress than they thought their dog could ever achieve but even so, we need to all be on the same page.

Commonly, we will get a dog that was lunging and attacking other dogs at a distance of 50 metres plus to be able to calmly walk by other dogs on the street and greet other dogs without aggression.

This will continue to improve if the owner takes on the program and sticks with it.

Owners who drop the dog back into his or her old lifestyle will surely see some regression.

Imagine you head off to a health resort for a few weeks. You eat healthy food, exercise, sleep well and avoid unhealthy foods and habits.

After a few weeks you feel and look amazing.

You head home and go back to the old routine; in a week your new look is gone and the great feel you had has also gone.

Of course, right? But at the health resort they ONLY offered healthy food and programmed exercise for you.

But at home you need impulse control and make choices based on what is best for you rather than what you like or don’t.

Board and rehab is no different.

The benefits are that:-

  • We (highly experienced and effective trainers) teach the new behaviours correctly
  • We train them every day, with controlled exposure to other dogs and people.
  • We manage the dogs in our care 100% effectively.
  • We prove to you what changes your dog CAN make, eliminating the big question “can my dog ever change?”
  • We show you that your dog CAN be around other dogs and or people and CAN behave well.
  • We do not limit the way we train dogs to the methods we like best, or are easiest for us, we use what will get your dog feeling and working their best.
  • We DO provide you with training hand over lessons and follow up lessons as you need
  • We DO provide written programs and support you.

Some people need more help than others, very often their dog has created fear and anxiety in the owners, and they are scared and need support themselves.

This is totally understandable; we are more than happy to help here too and have solid experience in setting you up to feel like you can do this.

But those that without question get with the program and change the the way they act and think about dog training just about universally say that training with us is a life changing experience.

They celebrate happy, healthy, responsive, motivated, obedient and respectful dogs that no longer are aggressive or feel the need to over react.

What they don’t do is restrict the methods, tools, programs and management strategies we use, “cherry picking” the pieces of the programs they like and ignoring the parts they don’t.

Every diet has a “cheat day” but that can’t be every day!

Those that do all fall into the small percentage of people that spend years trying to change their dogs behaviour with trainer after trainer, never to see any lasting improvement.

Eventually labelling the dog as untrainable and he or she lives a life in the back yard or euthanised.

Target your goals on things like a dog that be calm around other dogs through exercises that you teach and maintain.

A dog that is engaged with you at a level in which he or she has no interest in other dogs.

A dog that will recall away from any distraction.

A dog that can tolerate other dogs in his or her face for a period of time.

These are all responsible and most likely achievable goals.

If you are having problems with your dog, maybe you have tried and failed, with other trainers even, let us help you reset, restart, reinvent, rejuvinate and reinvest in your dog and your self.

Targeting your success with us will put you in the winners circle.

As always, love to hear your comments and feel free to share.

About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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