Training Is About Choices
A new trend in dog training is about giving the dog choices. This is good if the choices are about to play or not to play a certain type of game, not insisting the dog do something it is uncomfortable with or on activities to be enjoyed.
But when it comes to things like coming when called, walking nicely on leash, not jumping, grooming do they get a choice?
The answer is Yes. Technically the dog can do it or not. When I call a dog to come, it does make a choice as to whether it comes or not. What the dog chooses may not be to my advantage and that is where training comes in. My job as the person training the dog is to make it so the dog always chooses to do what I want through the use of training and rewards.
If I want to get the dog to do things it would rather not do, I need to train the dog by breaking the goal down into easily obtainable segments that are doable for the dog. Train the dog to enjoy doing that part of the training and by giving the dog rewards for the correct behavior. When that is accomplished, I can then add in the next segment of the behavior.
So lets take coming when called as an example.
This training is really broken down into segments of Getting the dog to
• pay attention when you say its name
• turn towards you when you say its name
• move towards you with speed when you say its name
• come close to you
• not retract when you grab a hold of it
• come from greater distances
• come with a variety of distractions
Your dog does get a choice. It chooses to eat or not eat. It chooses what rewards are of value. It chooses what it likes and does not like. You also have choices when it comes to training. You have the choice to train or not to train, accept and apply training advice or to not accept and apply training advice, to make changes to what you presently are doing or not, to listen to what your dog is communicating to you or not. Each choice we make has a consequence. Choices are really about picking what consequence we would prefer. Training your dog is really about manipulating consequences in a way that makes the dog choose to do what we want it to do.