seems to be the most asked question I have ever heard in
my dog training career. Every professional has a pat answer.
Clients are always asking this question.
love it when the professionals make a blanket statement
like, "15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at
night, without fail". Or, "a dog needs a minimum
of 1/2 hour per day, without fail", and so on and so
forth. The clients are always asking this question because
they are trying to set up parameters for themselves and
their dog. They either need to schedule the time to be able
to do it, or they don't want to make a mistake and under-train,
or undeniably so, they are curious. For the clients they
should be given leeway with this question because they are
the novices and have no idea what is involved and what it
takes to reach the end, a finished dog. The "professional"
I don't cut the same slack. They are supposed to be all-knowing
because they are the ones that are guiding the clients through
this. For the professionals who tell you a certain time
should be put in, take some good advice, get away from them
as fast as possible. In fact, before they even see your
dog ask the following question, "Do you set certain
time limits or time parameters per training session?".
is impossible to put a time allocation on a training session.
The one who determines how much time and how a training
session proceeds as far as what is accomplished is the dog.
If you cannot read the dog then you are not going to be
a successful trainer, and more importantly you will psychologically
hurt the dog. How so?
are a couple examples of what I am referring to. Take dog
A, he is about to start his first lesson in obedience. We
have determined that Dog A has a slight socialization problem
and without taking that into consideration we can hurt the
dog in training. Dog A is not that sure about this new person
in his life, the trainer. Now if the trainer has a rule
15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour, without fail - and the
dog is pressured the dog will be hurt. So instead the heck
with the time just become friends with the dog. If the dog
shows a positive reaction to you, the trainer, and only
three minutes has elapsed, the training session is over.
Dog A will come back when the next training session is scheduled
with a positive happier attitude and you will be able to
win him over. If you have pressured the dog for a definite
timing and missed what I just discussed the dog will come
back afraid, nervous, unhappy, or all of the above. Clients
must be made to understand this concept, it is a moral imperative.
They must be made to understand that each dog is an individual,
and with that individuality comes negotiations in the training
procedures. If clients are not made to understand this they
will be hurting their dog.
B has had a couple of lessons under the belt, and knows
a release word, and he is now up to the down stationary
position. Yet, when testing the dog for his perception of
the down position, the dog has stated that he feels insecure
in that position. Fine, break off the training session immediately
and let the dog run in a very big enclosed field (which
by the way the training should have been done there just
in case something like this happened). Be patient and wait
for the dog to tire himself out. Now when the dog lays down
by himself, use the command word, gently stroke his body
downward in different areas, praise the heck out of him,
and since he knows the release word give him that word.
The dog will spring up and then test the down again. Since
the dog is tired and he got so much praise for laying down
himself he will be more apt to do the deed than when he
first started. Notice I did not put a timing on this. Notice
who is doing the orchestrating of the training session.
For those of you who missed what I am talking about I did
not put a time limit on this exercise and the dog is doing
the orchestrating of the work being done.
training no matter how intense should always be done this
way. Get your ego out of the way and place the dog first.
If you don't have an ego problem and are just inexperienced
place yourself in the dog's position and when you feel positive
about what you have done (being the dog) break off the session.
Remember dogs have feelings to and we would not want to
treat them badly either due to lack of experience or lack
Written by Neal Seaman