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— April 23, 2013 —

The Technique of the Week.
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

There seems to be a new “fad training” technique just about every week. Regardless of the latest trick, the fundamentals of dog training never change.

There will undoubtedly be a new one soon, the newest, latest, greatest dog training technique that will take the world by storm. Some of these techniques are designed for training traditional obedience and some are supposed to be used for dealing with problem behaviors. I’ve been training full time for a little over a decade now and I’ve seen a number of techniques gain recognition. I’ve seen whisperers, listeners, purely positives, pack leaders and dances-with-wolves trainers and anything else you can imagine. Some of these things pre-date my training career and some of them are pretty new. While some of them are unique, many of them are nothing more than recycled explanations of standard training techniques. They all promise some accelerated, better relationship that happens every time, with every dog, but only if you follow their technique to the letter and ignore everything else you have ever heard from any other trainer.

The fundamentals of dog training revolve around a simple theory. A quote by the late Max Von Stephanitz (developer of the German Shepherd Dog) says it best. “Whoever can find the answer to the question “How shall I say this to my dog?” has won the game and can develop from his animal whatever he likes.” What that means is, if you can explain what you want to your dog in a way that he understands it, you can get your dog to do anything. It is really all about developing communication with your dog, that “feel” for what he’s thinking, what will motivate him and what will get him to perform for you. As much as you love your dog now, working with your dog will strengthen that bond even more. When you bond with your dog in this way, you develop that “feel” for your dog that many people never get to experience. This is the true goal of dog training. No “technique of the week” will find it for you. There is no way to rush it and only putting in the time and working with your dog will make it happen.

Dog training is as much art as it is science, maybe more art than science. However, the fundamentals never change. I think I’m going to upset a few people when I say this, but here goes. All of the techniques that get marketed are just that.....marketing. They are usually little more than a way to sell a book or get people to come to a seminar.

Any decent trainers can teach the dog behaviors and get them to do it. The deeper connection, however, that “feel” for your dog cannot be taught. You have to learn it on your own. THIS is why trainers want their clients to practice with their dogs. THIS is the real goal of training. When I see a client develop that “feel” I can see it like a neon sign. That’s when I know my job is done. It’s a milestone in training and once you find it, you can never loose it.