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Match The Training Method To Your Dog

Oct 12, 2007
This week's training tip has to do with matching your training methods and approach with your dog's temperament and disposition. Unfortunately, this is something that is often overlooked by some dog trainers.

If done correctly, behavioral dog training should also help to shape and improve your dog's character. Self esteem, confidence and a sense of belonging - of loving and being loved should be the natural result of behavioral training as well as a well behaved dog.

In order to accomplish all of this it is vital that the methods used and your approach match your dog's personality. Although this sounds like common sense it can be a little trickier than it sounds. Here's what I mean.

It's pretty obvious that when dealing with a shy dog or sensitive dog you should lighten the methods of restriction and REALLY emphasize positive action and behaviors, acknowledging with exaggerated rewards. It also makes sense that when dealing with a excessively boisterous or even a dominant dog you need to handle things more firmly.

But what do you do when faced with some of the following scenarios...

* A dog who is very outgoing but is sensitive to any correction or Disapproval.
* A mischievous dog or trouble maker who has separation anxiety - can't stand to be apart from their owner.
* A timid dog who turns aggressive when you try to correct them or tell them "No!". (behaviors like 'fear biting')
* Or the usually well behaved 'happy' dog who is completely emotionally crushed by any disapproval shown by the owner.

These are just a few examples of dog-personalities I've worked with. As a general rule it's best to use neutral body language and expression when having to say "No!" to your dog. Also methods like the four Compassionate Control Actions that I teach do a lot of the communicating for you.

The only time I purposely express emotions when doing behavioral dog training is when I'm working with a dominant, stubborn confrontative dog (like my Indigo) who'll actually argue and grumble when they get into trouble. For this type of dog I like to express "profound disappointment" to help get through to them and to be taken seriously.

As an aside, anger is one of the least effective emotions to express when dog training. It tends to either trigger an undesirable response or scare the dog. Either response is not what you're aiming for and certainly doesn't help to build good character.

But no matter what you do, be sensitive and aware of your dog's emotional experience. If anything err on the side of caution at first. If, for example, you give your dog a "Time Out" for the first time keep it really short (1-2 minutes). When done this way the worst that can happen is your dog might not take you seriously the first time and you have to repeat it for a longer time.

If on the other hand you gave your dog a long "Time Out", say 15 minutes and they came out of there terrified and in shock, you may have caused emotional trauma that could take months to turn around.

So in the beginning take it easy, take it slow and carefully observe your dog's reaction. You can always up it a notch later on.
About the Author
Learn more from Shane Morgan about how triggers and responses influence your
dog's behavior and how you can make it work for you instead of against you when
you get your free membership at: www.Dog-e-Talk.com
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