Thinking Beyond Obedience... Simplify Dog Training by Asking Less and Getting More"

Dec 28, 2023

By simplifying dog training can we ask less and achieve more? When it comes to dog training and the modern family dog, moving beyond just an obedience is essential for creating a truly harmonious relationship between you and your dog. Mastering the art of training the whole dog involves a comprehensive approach that goes beyond simple commands, focusing on the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of your canine companion. In this article, I’ll detail how I approach things and explore some techniques and strategies to elevate your dog's training experience and deepen your bond.

Training dog using a holistic approach means addressing various aspects of your dog's life. It involves nurturing their mind and body to create a well-rounded and emotionally balanced individual dog. Dogs, like humans, have unique personalities, behaviors, and needs. Recognizing and respecting these differences is fundamental to effective training.

One of the foundations of a the approach use is to simplify training. Obedience commands like sit, down and stay (as well as many others) can be redundant and work against your relationship.

In general daily living with our dogs, how many different ways do we need to tell them to be still?

Maybe instead of “sit”, “down” and “stay”… we just pick one word that means “be still” and move on.

I believe distilling training down (after all I'm in Kentucky and we are known worldwide for distilling things) to the key behaviors a dog NEEDS to be successful in the crazy world around them is key.

Dog training is an essential aspect of building a solid relationship between humans and dogs. However, working with some trainers involves a laundry list of redundant commands for the dogs and humans to learn. What if there was a simpler way to achieve a functional level of behavior and build a strong bond with your dog?

The key might just be in asking less of the dog to an extent and, by doing that, achieving more.

Dogs have their unique way of communicating, primarily through body language and vocal cues. By observing and understanding your dog's natural behavior, you can work with their instincts rather than against them. Some dogs are more genetically predisposed to please and learn than others. Regardless, all dogs respond better to clarity and patience than they do to multiple demands of similar behaviors. Nagging gets frustrating whether you are human or dog.

Focusing on motivation is crucial and involves rewarding your dog for the things you want and being selective and mindful on how you address mistakes. This approach creates a willingness to work for you and reduces the fear of making mistakes.  This makes them more likely to repeat the desired behavior. Whether it's a treat, a belly rub, or appropriate level of verbal praise, the right motivation allows your dog to find and learn what behaviors you want. This approach encourages a willing attitude and fosters a stronger bond between you and your pet.

I say it multiple times a day... dogs, much like humans, thrive in environments where they feel safe and secure. By asking less and allowing your dog to make choices within certain boundaries, you're building their confidence. When dogs feel trusted, they become more responsive and willing to learn. Instead of demanding rigid adherence to commands, maybe let our dogs explore their surroundings and encourage their curiosity. Trusting your dog’s instincts and giving an appropriate amount of earned freedom leads to them becoming more receptive to training efforts.

Dog training is not a race; it's a journey that requires time, patience, and consistency. Dogs don’t learn overnight, and expecting instant results can lead to frustration for both you and your pet. By asking less and setting realistic expectations, you create an environment where your dog can learn at their own pace. In addition, consistency in your training methods and routines helps your dog understand what is expected of them, making the learning process more natural and enjoyable.

Every dog is unique, with their own personality traits and quirks. As mentioned earlier, some dogs may be naturally inclined to follow commands, while others may require more thought. The term “stubborn as a hound” describes a group of dogs that is genetically predisposed to think for themselves. A dog’s personality which is a makeup of a number of factors challenges us to vary training methods accordingly to achieve better results. My current dogs are a mix of different dogs like a herding breed that love to work, a “stubborn” hound and a headstrong bully mix that have all required me thinking what works best for the dog in front of me. Recognizing what motivates your dog allows you to customize your training, making it more effective and enjoyable for both of you.

Simplifying dog training by asking less of your dog doesn’t mean lowering your standards; it means understanding and respecting a dogs natural instincts and abilities. By focusing on understanding motivation, building trust, embracing patience, and tailoring your approach, you can create a training experience that is not only effective but also enjoyable for both you, your clients and the dogs we live and work with. Remember, a well-trained dog is not just the result of commands but also of a strong, trusting, and respectful relationship.

As always thanks for hanging out and digging into the world of dog training with me!

My goal with the Top Dog Blog is to bring a mix of science, old-school wisdom, a craftsmanship focus, and the pure joy that comes from working with dogs and helping clients. This almost 30 year journey from problem dogs to hobby trainer to the past decade as a career has been and continues to be a blast, and I'm really honored you've taken the time to read this.

So take what you've learned, try it out with your own pup, and find the joy in working with dogs. I've got more ideas coming your way in the next blog, so keep your eyes peeled.

Until then, enjoy the adventures with our dogs and the simple joy that comes from truly understanding them.


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