Things linking urban/rural people together. East Coast, USA
CAN'T TEACH NOTHING
on your dog training experience, the title of this article may seem
self-evident, puzzling, or simply ungrammatical. Let me explain.
time ago, I had in my beginners class a very large lady with a very small dog.
As is often the case with this particular combination, the dog ruled her
with an iron paw. In the "Down
Stay" for example, he would go down and stay for just as long as it suited
him. Then he would be up, leaping
all over his owner, who immediately made a great fuss of him for having stayed
tried hard to impress on the lady that she must not let him get up until she
said he could, but to no avail. Eventually
I asked her what she thought she was teaching him when he got up in his own
time. She thought for a moment,
then light seemed to dawn. "Nothing"
she was wrong. What she was
actually doing was teaching him that he could get up when it suited him - and
she had repeated that lesson so often that he had learned it very thoroughly.
is almost impossible to teach your dog NOTHING. Every time you say "Heel" and let him go on pulling
on the lead, you are teaching him that ' when you say "Heel" he can go
on pulling on the lead. When you
call him and he does not come, you are teaching him that he need not bother to
obey you if he happens to have something better to do. Every time you give a command but fail to enforce it, you not
only permit his immediate disobedience, you also reinforce his belief that you
are an ineffectual old softie who can safely be ignored. Do this often enough, and you will have a dog that takes no
notice of you whatsoever. Having
thus taught him, it's a bit hard to put the blame on him when he fails to
make progress with his training.
only remedy at this stage is to go right back to square one and start training
him from the beginning as though he were a puppy; slowly, patiently, enforcing
your every command. For example -
putting him in the "Down" and getting on your knees beside him to
ensure that he stays there until YOU say he can get up.
it will be tedious, and much more difficult with an older dog, because you are
not simply teaching something new, as you would be with a young puppy.
Your dog is having to 'unlearn' the lesson which you have been
consistently teaching him up till now (i.e. to ignore you) and then learn the
lesson of the day.
Try to think like your dog. You are teaching him something all the time; either to obey you or to ignore you; the right way or the wrong way; good habits or irritating habits.
are you teaching YOUR dog right now?
Avril (Betsy) Thurley - Reprinted from the Hastings & St. Leonards