Dogs are being studied across all areas of health and behavior, making it possible to apply scientific insights to the way we train. As a result, new conversations are taking place among professional dog trainers at conferences and seminars. Here’s the lowdown on a few of these important discussions.
How can the six-week class be improved?
The six-week-class format was designed to be convenient for the owner’s schedule and budget: same place, same time, same price each week. Unfortunately, this model is proving to be insufficient, as many dog owners find themselves with unmet expectations at the end of the course. Day training (dropping the dog off for the day to be trained without the owner), smaller class sizes, online classes, private lessons and email check-ins are on the list of new options.
Should dog owners be taught management first and training second?
In dog training, “management” means to proactively arrange an environment or situation so that dogs do not have opportunities to do things we don’t want them to do. Trainers agree that owners who master the skill of managing their dogs’ behaviors can both avoid creating behavior problems and strengthen obedience training.
Are group puppy classes laying the foundation for calm and confident adult dogs?
The term “one-trial learning” describes a form of learning in which a brand-new experience is viewed by the dog as either positive or negative for the rest of the dog’s life. Since the negative effect of a single bad experience may never go away, owners need to be impeccable in choosing a puppy class. Classes that allow uncontrolled puppy play sessions can easily exacerbate the very issues owners want to reduce in their adult dogs, including fear, aggression, inattention and hyperactivity around other dogs.
Is it possible to train a puppy or adult dog to control bite pressure?
There is a strongly held belief that a puppy learns bite inhibition (to moderate the strength of his or her bite) from playing with other puppies in a group setting, or from the owner through training. However, evidence suggests that bite inhibition is a matter of genetics and the first 10 weeks of sibling playtime. There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that it can be taught by owners later on, or by other puppies after the dog leaves the litter. While a dog can learn to have a soft mouth in many situations, telling dog owners that they can train their puppies to have generalized bite inhibition creates a false sense of security. It’s good to keep in mind the mantra “Every dog can bite,” which makes appropriate socialization, positive exposure to a variety of situations and public education even more important in reducing the odds that a dog will feel the need to bite.
Should owners facilitate grooming procedures?
“One-trial learning” is also creating conversations about grooming and veterinary visits. Sadly, a single instance of poor handling can give a dog a reason to be conflicted and develop a negative association. Dogs who aren’t sure what will happen once they’re restrained will become cautious about being handled. This is a bigger deal than it may sound like. Cautious dogs will run and hide, or worse, growl and bite. Even simple procedures, such as administering ear or eye drops can take an hour (or more) if the dog is too fearful to cooperate.
Is asking dogs to “sit for greetings”creating arousal and frustration, as well as joint stress?
Training a dog to “sit for greeting” is a common method used to teach self-control. Recent data now suggests that self-control (in both humans and dogs) is a limited resource, and if we require it in one situation, the human or dog has less of it to spend on tasks or undertakings that come afterward.
Can the equipment we use cause physical or behavioral problems?
Until recently, no-pull harnesses were considered safe and gentle solutions to leash pulling. But, as many canine sports medicine specialists and physical therapists have pointed out, recent studies show that these harnesses restrict a dog’s natural movement even after the harness is removed, and that restricting a dog’s gait can have a negative effect long-term.
Is leash walking a good way to tire out a dog?
Taking a dog for a walk has long been prescribed as a way to release the dog’s energy and curb bad behavior. However, increases in leash aggression and surgical ligament repairs have dog trainers asking if leash-walking some dogs could be doing them more harm than good.
Read the Full Article Here