In the middle of a difficult training lesson, a frustrated client said to me,
“I want to do more trick training, than obedience”.
“Why is that?” I asked.
The answer baffled me…
”Well, trick training is more fun, the dog enjoys it more!”
Why is it that our dogs enjoy trick training, agility or play time, over obedience training?
My opinion stands as this, the fun starts with the handler. When we teach our dogs a new trick or ask them to hurdle an A frame, the excitement, pride and sense of accomplishment we project is insurmountable.
The saying, “your dog only wants to please you” stands true! If you are excited and project a positive attitude over your dog’s response to the task at hand, the dog’s attitude will reflect that in its performance. Our canine friends DO want to make us happy, so in turn they can be happy as well.
Let’s look at when we ask our dog to shake hands; once we have coaxed and motivated the dog to touch our hand with its paw, we stir with excitement. Our tone of voice changes, our facial features light up, eyes brighten, smile appears… and the feeling, that one deep inside of accomplishment, swells beyond a point of pure bliss. Heck, why wouldn’t your dog want to continue throwing that paw into your eager hand…
I would too if you asked me that way!
Now, look at the times we ask our dog to do something as simple (simple to us), as sit. What tone of voice do you use, what attitude are you projecting? Most times it’s a serious, demanding, “You better sit!” Say it to yourself, or even, to your dog, “SIT”. Reflect on how that felt: dry, rigid, and sorry to say, but probably boring? Now, change your tone, lighten your presence, think happy thoughts… and ask your dog again “SIT!” What was the difference? Hopefully, your dog responded faster, more enthusiastically and in all of it, aimed to please. If nothing changed, try again, and again, and again, up to the point where you notice a change. Take note of yourself, what did you do differently, how did you sound saying it, and most importantly, how did you respond to the finished task?
Through obedience training, take your time, work on one task through your session, and truly reflect on your state of emotional presence. Try and try again, up to the point you find yourself having fun!
(GOOD JOB! Give yourself a treat!)
Training your dog will always be the most beneficial, rewarding and bonding experience you will ever have with your four legged friend. So, make it meaningful, treat every objective as it’s the first time you are asking your dog to do it! And lastly, be fair; be fair to your pet, and yourself. If you are not in the proper mindset to project the proper attitude, I will always say, wait until you are.
Until next time…
Keep building the bond!