My philosophy of how to train dogs has been a journey that began when I was a boy in the 1950's and continues to this day. I get as excited when I learn something new about dog training today as I did 45 or 50 years ago. For me this journey began as a hobby and has evolved into a life's passion and work. It will end on the day I die.
There is nothing secretive or magical about training dogs. I have learned that good dog training is pretty much all common sense with a foundation based on experience and a clear understanding of the way dogs think and interact (pack structure). The key is to get the right experience.
One only needs to spend a couple of hours searching the internet to understand that there are certainly a lot of people out there who lack experience or are basing their training opinions on poorly acquired experience.
Dog training does not necessarily have to begin when you buy an 8 week old puppy (although it should) or when your 10 year old dog bites a child. In reality it begins on the day you make up your mind to learn how their dog thinks and relates to the world it lives in. It begins when you decide to relate to your dog in a manner that both you and your dog respect and understand. It begins when you make up your mind to develop a meaningful relationship based on trust, communication and control.
Although our family had owned dogs my entire life I made this decision to really try and understand dogs when I was in high school. I was 16 years old and it was the 1960's. I owned a rescue dog named King and thought he was the cat's meow.
We took 2 or 3 walks in the woods every day. He was my best bud. I had him trained to hand signals and verbal commands. Once morning, before school, we came out of the woods and King chased a cat into the road. He would not respond to my calls to stop and COME. He ran in front of an Austin Martin sports car and was killed. To this day I can close my eyes and replay that event in slow motion.
That one incident changed the way I looked at dog training. It caused me to step back and make up my mind that the next time I would learn how to communicate in a way that my dog would listen in every scenario and not just in the ones he felt like doing so.
I wrote this article with the thought that it may help other dog owners develop a new approach on how they relate to and train their dogs. I hope in some small way it makes you think and devlop or adopt your own philosophy of how to train your dog.