Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bond with your dog using positive training methods

Our first Golden Retriever Gryphon came to live with us in the eighties. We were young. We didn’t know what to do for him. We enrolled him in puppy kindergarten and thoroughly loved the experience. In addition to great early socialization Gryphon learned the basics of sit, stay, come and heel. We liked it so much that we signed up for the next class. What an eye-opener. The instructor told us to stick a dumbbell into his mouth, then pinch his ear until he held the weight. We couldn’t do it. We left and never went back. We couldn’t believe that good dog training included pain.

Years later with Daisy and Buddy we discovered agility. We had fun learning clicker training, playing games and exercising their minds. Then the new instructor yelled at Daisy until she cowered and hid in her crate. Agility was supposed to be a fun, bonding experience, and Daisy obviously wasn’t having fun. We left.

Today, I attended an incredibly wonderful workshop with Sue Ailsby. Working with dogs and llamas, Sue has experience with just about every competition possible. She’s wonderful. She believes that balanced dogs do things because they want to please you – and when you’re pleased, their world is full of good things. Her fundamentals are teach them to learn, reward their good behaviour, and ignore everything else. Within five minutes and without a word being spoken or negative correction applied, we watched Stitches (Sue’s companion show, sport, and service dog) figure out how to weave under a chair, then sit proudly on it.

Training can be a positive bonding experience for you and your dog. To learn about Sue’s BOOK of TRAINING LEVELS, visit her web site at When you research your local training options, look for instructors who use positive methods such as clickers, treats and affection, and avoid those who use corrections, choke chains and aggression to dominate their dogs.

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