The Art of Training

Dogs and their owners share a special bond not easily broken, and have a mutual respect for one another not only as pet-owner, but also as best friends.  With all of their talents it is easy to understand why dogs are called man’s best friend, but have you ever wondered about what different techniques are used to achieve these canine capabilities?

The ‘Loved Dog’ method comes from life coach for dogs Tamar Geller.  She teaches how to build a relationship based on games, clear communication, respect and love.  Geller believes in capturing the individuality of each dog and celebrating their uniqueness, giving back to our canine companion for the positive affect they have on our lives.   She releases her new book, “The Loved Dog: The Playful Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior” this spring, along with her DVD, “Celebrate Your Dog! The Loved Dog way of Training,” based on her one-of-a-kind, innovative approach to training.

If you are looking for a more scientific approach to training your pet, then Karen Pryor’s clicker training is the answer.  “Clicker training” is a method based on behavioral psychology that relies on marking agreeable behavior and then rewarding it.  When your dog acts in a desirable manner, their behavior is marked using a “clicker,” a mechanical device that makes a distinct “click” sound.   This “click” is then followed directly by a reward, which reinforces the wanted behavior.  “They develop a confidence because they have control over the consequences of their actions.  They are enthusiastic because they expect those consequences to be pleasurable.” This clear form of communication, along with positive reinforcement, is an effective way of training even the toughest of breeds.

Vladae Roytapel, The Dog Wizard, poses with two of his canine students

Hailing all the way from Russia is “doglish” speaker Vladae Roytapel, the “Dog Wizard,” who trains from the dog’s point of view.  He communicates with sharp words and movements, uses his hands like a dog’s paw and uses his fingers as teeth.  His purpose of doing this is to establish a language in order to communicate so that when you tell your dog something, it will understand.  Roytapel believes that “if you treat your dog as a human in return they will treat you as a dog.”  Vladae teaches dog owners to always be one step ahead of your pooch, and to always be in the position to prevent, correct, or praise. His philosophy revolves around creating a balance on both ends of the leash, and in order to do so we need to address some key elements.  On the dog’s end we need to address nutrition, genetics, training and adaptability, while on the human end we need to address the relationship (with the dog), dedication and consistency, and the expectations.  When you are able to achieve this balance then you and your dog on the same page, and a deeper relationship is formed.

Described as the dog trainer to the stars, Brian Kilcommons has trained over 35,000 dogs.  His method states that saying commands, such as “no” on their own to your dog is useless, pointing out that the meaning is too abstract for them.  “Most of the dogs in America think their name is No.”  He explains that our pets are more likely to understand commands that demand a specific action, such as off, sit or stay.  Kilcommons then advises that once the pooch adequately follows the command, positive reinforcement in the form of praise and rewards should be used.   His technique also takes on the belief that ignoring the dog when he or she transgresses can be credited with turning the behavior of a disorderly pup around, thus ultimately causing the dog to understand who the boss in the family is.  With and equal amount of energy being used in training as well as disciplining your pet, the days will prove to be bark-credible!

Full- grown dogs don’t get to have all the fun thanks to Dr. Ian Dunbar and his revolutionary training video called SIRIUS Puppy Training.  Finding that so many training classes did not allow dogs under the age of six months to attend, Dunbar took matters into his own hands and created SIRIUS.  It focuses on positive methods and early socialization skills for pups, and uses some unique lure/reward, off –leash techniques very different from the traditional inane leash jerking.  SIRIUS emphasizes the importance of teaching bite inhibition, temperament training, and simple solutions for common behavior problems.  Dunbar’s method is not only user-friendly and dog-friendly, but it uses effective methods that are within the capabilities of all family methods, especially children.  Worried if SIRIUS Puppy Training is the right choice for you new family member?  For three years running the video has been voted the #1 Best Dog Training Video by the Association of Pet Dog trainers, and it also gets two paws up for fun!

Trainer, Cesar Millan, smiles with two of his proteges

Cesar Millan, better known as the “Dog Whisperer,” has a pack-oriented philosophy.  His holistic approach teaches how a dog can trust its human to be a good pack leader, and through that prohibiting the exhibition of unwanted or anti-social behaviors.  Not a trainer in the sense that he teaches dogs commands like “sit” or “stay,” rather he rehabilitates unbalanced dogs and helps“re-train” their owners to better understand how to see through their dogs point of view.  Millan believes no one should ever hit or yell in order to correct undesirable behavior, but should instead consistently work every day with their pals to keep the unwanted behavior from returning.  You can watch him be the ultimate pack leader on the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan Friday nights on the National Geographic Channel.

With time and a willingness to stand by your four-legged friend through good times and bad, a bond can be formed in which no man, woman, or animal will ever come between.


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