While reams have been written and expounded on training secrets and the psychology of the dog one often tends to forget that the “mason” is the one who lays the bricks and makes the building strong. In this case it is the “attitude” of the trainer. Have you wondered why some trainers have “a touch” while others just get by? Well it is because they are in complete synchrony with the dog.
So, to be a good and successful trainer, you will need to develop your skills in a holistic/rounded manner — knowledge, patience, affinity for your dog, enthusiasm, a learning zeal, and more should all be coalesced in a productive way.
To be a trainer who produces a “top” dog you must instinctively know what motivates your dog. What is it that can be tapped to make him a “team” player?
Your dog may take to some learning like a duck to water and yet turn its back on certain things — here your skills come to the fore, you will need to make the “distasteful” attractive and enjoyable. You will need to gauge your dog’s mood and change the training approach appropriately.
Another important and often forgotten aspect is that you must work at a pace that the dog is comfortable with – for each lesson you must revise until the little dog has learnt thoroughly. Vary the order of the commands so that the dog has to “pay attention” and think – he must not mechanically execute commands.
Each step must be taken with steadfastness.
It is important, for you to remain calm and to motivate the dog at the right moment. Play your voice, whistles, and hand signals in a way that the dog will recognise what you are about to say. dogs are so attuned to their trainer/owner that they will, after a while pre-empt your commands. The little dog will read your mind clearly.
Develop your extra sensory perceptions to recognize the dog’s moods—if the dog is willing to learn, then you must take the day’s learning all the way. If he seems distracted -- just play with him and execute a few simple lessons. If the dog is listless declare an impromptu holiday – spend the lesson time cuddling your pet, giving him a relaxing massage or take him for a drive.
Never try and train if, you yourself are feeling low, irritable, or off colour—it does not achieve anything. Take a day or few days off -- the world will not come to an end or stop.
Never train your dog when:
You are unwell.
You are angry, negative, or upset.
You are low on patience or out of energy.
When the mind is distracted or there is too much traffic in the training area.
When you are not confident on how to execute a certain lesson – postpone until you have time to clarify with your trainer or school.
Like all first class trainers you too should adopt the four Cs –Calmness, Consistency, Communication, and Concentration. To raise a prince you need to be a seer.
We Must Learn Too
To be successful teachers we too must learn –often it is our ignorance that leads to disasters. We must, constantly update our knowledge and learn better and more innovative ways to communicate with our canine friends.
Some tried and tested methods are:
Leash handling: The ideal way is to begin with your arms hanging loosely down with the palms facing inwards. The loop of the leash should be placed over the right thumb with the loose end crossing the palm. The next step is to fold the leash like an accordion to a manageable length. The loose end should emerge from under the little finger. Then the leash must pass through the loop made by the thumb and index finger of the left hand and across the palm. Hold the leash loosely in your left hand; from here to your dog’s collar the leash should have enough length to form a “j” In popular parlance this is referred to as the “control-start” position. This permits better control of the dog. The right hand should always be stationary while the left hand makes all the necessary corrections.
Footwork: At all times footwork is your biggest aid in training. While executing turns if you do not place your feet properly you could trip the dog and cause a disturbance in the synchronization. Moving quickly also causes forging or lagging. Footwork should be consistent and the foot closest to your dog should lead. Pace is crucial don’t race or pick up-tempo sometimes and saunter at other times. It is beneficial to place your feet in a “T” position whilst turning
Timing and use of body language: It is essential to move together. If you say heel and start walking even before the word leaves your lips then you are making it difficult for your dog to follow your commands. You must pause for a second after giving the command –this gives enough time for the dog to respond accurately. In order to establish a certain pattern, it is advisable to incorporate delays of 1-5 seconds before responding. Since dogs are extremely receptive animals they can respond very quickly to body language. It is for them an inherited trait. The pet will recognize your smile as a welcoming gesture. Similarly, towering or leaning over is considered to be threatening. Just raising your hand is enough to convey –a threat/displeasure. So it is essential for you to master body language. Similarly, hand signals help the dog perform many tasks.