Thursday, November 8, 2012


The basics of dog behavior and training can be explained to a child and he’ll get them right away, if they’re true and workable. Last night, I had the pleasure of working with two boys, 6 and 8, who want to be junior handlers.  The 6 year old got the mechanics of treat delivery and and waiting for the dogs attention before giving a cue right away.  The 8 year old had tons of questions about why it was done "that" way.  But both of them learned the basics of teaching a dog "tricks".  Izzy, their dog, learned to sit immediately (she already knew sit) and that having sat, she was to stay there until released (no need for the word stay).  Both boys got this concept right away - no need to "explain".  There were other things everyone learned last night, but mostly what was learned was that it was easy and that it made sense to a child.

Truths, valuable truths, and the things that are really workable, are that easily communicated. You can always tell when we’re getting too complicated and esoteric because a child can’t understand what we’re talking about. And if that’s the case, and it’s gotten very complicated, the humans and canines we are attempting to teach will never reach understanding.  When explanations and mechanics are so complicated that it takes a PhD to decipher them, all you get is robotic movement or no movement at all.

Adults have a tendency, which I think is a learned tendency, to either not question and therefore not understand or to just not listen to the explanations of why.  Children, like dogs, see the end product and just want to know how to get there.  Childern can dream and wish and hope and work toward those goals.  Adults have lost it somewhere and get bogged down in "it can't be done".

It takes courage to move ahead. Courage could be defined as 1) being willing to cause something; and 2) moving ahead against any and all odds. There really is no such thing as failure, only not doing.  But for whatever reason, adults see failure more then they dream of, plan for success and then act.  This can be solved by going back to basics, making things simple and easy. One, two, three, done. Taking them back to childhood where the courage to dream and plan and act was natural.

Dog training and behavior is simple.  And it is easy as well. If a child can do it, anyone can.  If a child can do it, why is there any need for painful techniques and tools or intimidation to teach a dog our rules and the behaviors that make living with humans less stressful.

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