Are you a pet parent trying to figure out how to train your dog ? Do you feel overwhelmed, confused, or even amazed at all the exercises, quick fixes, and even politics involved in dog training?
You are not alone!
Training dogs is really a lot like comparing parenting styles and opinions run hot and high!
So how do you find a training style that's right for you, and how do you know it will work?
For the human
1.) First of all find a trainer that feels good to you and who values what you value.
You don't have to agree on everything, but your core values should be the same. Also make sure to find someone who can offer you programs and a roadmap to success vs just lessons here and there.
You need time with a teacher to learn their process and get all the information you need to be successful. Dog training is NOT a quick fix sport and will not happen overnight, but the more consistent you are at learning with someone the quicker your results will be. You are learning as much as your dog is so the more committed to learning you are, the better your results will be.
2.) Secondly, the next magic ingredient to success with your dog is ............................... YOU!
This doesn't really feel fun and sexy to most people ...
It can feel like an added responsibility, which it is, but!
I invite you to see this responsibility as an opportunity to learn something new with your dog. Like I said, training your dog is a lot like parenting, its not a one and done type deal. It is a lifelong conversation and process that builds mutual respect, trust, and understanding. As these conversations become more solid and grounded you will find you can start to have more complex conversations. You will also have the same conversations over and over again. Lessons are repeated until they are learned- this applies to you and your dog!
Your overall consistency to the process and building relationship to your dog is what will make long lasting change.
3.)Commitment to Learning
You will be learning as much as your dog and it's important to realize that you are also learning.
It will take time, but your relationship and communication with your dog will be so much better. You will be more deeply connected with your dog than you ever knew, and
who doesn't wish that they could talk to their dog?
4.)Stick with the system your trainer is providing
Once you have a trainer, a program, you are open and willing to learn, and do your homework it is SO important that you stick with the system your trainer is providing.
A guaranteed way to sabotage your efforts is to cherry pick things randomly on the internet and think that exercises, games, and drills are going to solve your training issue.
Exercises and drills are just a medium through which you and your dog learn concepts.
The exercises and drills are less important than the concepts themselves! I cannot emphasize that point enough!
Dog training is an art form and teaches these concepts through many different mediums.
As I said earlier, training dogs is a lot like comparing parenting styles. There are a lot of ways to get to the same results and as an individual you are looking for a style that fits your values, your dog's desires, and are making sure you learn from someone who is educated, experienced, and continues to learn.
For the Dog
All of animal training is founded on the same learning principles and concepts that we use to teach human kids and adults. So these principles are not new, but the artistry involved is what gives every trainer their unique style, or method.
All of animal training is going to incorporate:
You are teaching your dog a language through training that you and him will communicate through. There are many ways that this can be achieved, but it is the foundation of your communication system. You will both be learning a new language that creates clarity for what you want, and what you don't want.
Prediction & Pattern-
Your dog will learn concepts by learning patterns and predictions that your trainer teaches you how to create. This can be applied to ANYTHING you want to teach your dog. Always ask yourself, "What is my dog predicting in this scenario?",
and you will start to have some real insights into why your dog behaves the way the do.
When your dog barks at the mailman and you start yelling, what do you think the dog predicts when the mailman comes by?
This is the magic ingredient and the ingredient our dogs will be far better at then ourselves!
To create any results or reach any goal in life, you need to practice over, and over, and over, and over again-
and by practice I don't just mean doing something over and over again.
I mean doing things correctly over and over again.
It's just like working out at the gym. If you want to have stronger thighs you have to do the work consistently and correctly so that you get stronger and you don't create injury.
This concept, when you are new to training, really means that initially you are practicing for you. So it can really be helpful to practice without your dog first because you are going to make a lot of mistakes. These mistakes will confuse your dog, but aren't always a big deal if they don't stick around for long. This is why you want to consistently meet with a trainer who can support you on your learning journey. Once you are more correct consistently then you can actually start to train your dog. Although it honestly always amazes me how much interpreting our dogs do for us even when we fall woefully short!
This really wraps up all of the above. You create clarity, prediction, and consistency through your timing which will take time to learn.
It doesn't matter how long it takes it just matters that you take the time!
The key ingredients are......
So really the key ingredients to dog training are pretty grounded.
It's pretty salt of the Earth when you really get down to it.
Mindset, Support, Skill Building, Clarity, Consistency, Prediction, Timing
But the magis is...
The magic of dog training is staying grounded in these sometimes mundane routines and finding the doorway to connection with your dog through these daily practices and rituals.
When you start to think of training as your daily practice to connection it can almost feel like a daily prayer.
Communicating with another animal demands that we take a look at ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally on a daily basis. Without a doubt these factors will help or hinder your training experience with your dogs.
The beauty in connecting with our dogs through training is in the reflection they provide us.
They mirror our greatest strengths,
and the flaws we wish we didn't have to see.
They reflect and witness these things and still they love us whole heartedly exactly as we are.
They reflect the deep love we have for them and offer it back to us hoping we will love ourselves just as deeply.
If that's not magic I don't know what is.
Valerie Naegele & Lewen
Valerie is a dog trainer in the Southern Maine area and is dedicated to providing dog parents with compassionate, and effective training. She has worked with animals all of her life and has completed years of courses, shadowing with mentors, education, and hand on experience training dogs and horses. She truly enjoys working with people and very much considers her journey training dogs and horses as a spiritual practice. She feels that every dog, horse, and person has something new to teach and offer.