Dog Training Beyond Conditioning

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Dog Training Beyond Conditioning

by Lex Fredericks

Not many people stop to think that the relationships we have with our canine companions are two sided. Dogs must also decipher human language and society, and strive to understand us and what we expect from them just as we strive to understand them and what they expect from us.

My name is Lex Fredericks and I have been training dogs as long as I can remember, and most, if not all unacceptable dog behavior stems directly from misunderstanding and a need for more communication and/or hierarchal adjustment between dog and human.

Dogs developed ritualistic body language to communicate. There are no problem barkers or the like in wolf packs. The basic principal of dog training is not merely conditioning an animal to behave the way we want them too. Dog training is about creating a stable relationship with your dog and having him trust you completely and allow you to dictate what is ?go? and what is ?no? in your pack.

When a dog is trained, we are not simply repeating a command over and over and giving them treats to think ?I do this and I get food!?. Dog training is not 15 minutes a day of repeating a command over and over. It is constant and doesn?t only happen when you want it to. We have to control ourselves to control our dogs. Both parties have to work to attain a state of freedom within a dog/human relationship. That state of freedom where you trust your dog and she trusts doesn?t happen In 15 minutes a day. It relies on the relationship itself, between you and your dog and it starts with your first meeting and continues from there on with no interruptions. We are obligated to secure our position as the alpha dog from day one and continue it. We control the resources and educate our dogs what the appropriate and inappropriate response in any given situation is, and they rely on us for that guidance and education.

Sure, some conditioning is taking place, but conditioning takes place all the time in our life. As sentient beings, we are as susceptible to conditioning as any other creature. Instant reward or penalty has a powerful effect on minds. But true intelligence and solid relationships with dogs or between humans, don?t stem from want of reward or fear of penalty, they come from mutual respect, tolerance and above all, trust. All these things transcend mere conditioning.

Once your dog truly views you as the ?benevolent alpha?, to be trusted and respected, Common dog behavior problems become irrelevant. Proper alpha status coupled with tolerance, consistency and a clear path of communication between human and dog is usually enough to alter unacceptable behaviors within dog/human relationships.

When you and your dog do not have the attributes above, misunderstandings frequently ensue, and misbehavior is usually a product of either not knowing what the alpha considers proper behavior, lack of consistency or rewards from misbehavior trumping potential rewards for good behavior. Conditioning does have it?s place in ensuring good dog behavior, but it is not everything.

You, whoever you are must rise and be a star to your dog and that in itself is one of the beautiful things about living with dogs. That look of admiration, that trusting gaze and those moments of faith and friendship when your dog believes what you say and obeys you and honors your relationship are all signs that you have been lionized and are in the position of the ?Benevolent Alpha? .

Do not be mean, do not get flustered. Just elevate yourself and give your dog a reason to follow you. If you are in control, your dog will be at ease. That?s when you can stop the misunderstanding, stop the commanding and just be with your dog. We must inspire our dogs. And we must believe in ourselves as well as our dogs.

When your dog barks incessantly and you yell at him, you?re just joining the chant. When you?ve chased your dog around when she wouldn?t come, you?ve just played with her in her mind. When you?ve petted your dog to calm her down when she growls at another dog, you?ve just told her that was the proper behavior and you approve. If your dog growls at you and you back away, you just assured him alpha status and burdened him with the impossible task of micromanaging a human subordinate. No dog can handle being alpha over a human. It?s too confusing and only leads to bedlam. There is no diplomacy in dog packs.

Tell your dog what acceptable behavior is. Don?t expect him to just know. Never say ?No? without telling him what is ?Yes.? Dog training is not just brainwashing. It?s shaping behavior and teaching our dogs how to function in human society and how to be upstanding canines on their own!

To enjoy harmonious relationships with our dogs, we must instill trust and respect in our canine companions. We must convince our dogs that we known what we?re doing, We know what?s best, we are in control and we are wise and responsible. The less we look at our dogs, the more they look at us. Treats are just the icing on the cake and that proverbial cake is a solid and illuminated relationship with you, the Alpha human and your dog, your biggest fan and ?bestest? friend!

About the Author:

Lex Fredericks is a Registered Veterinary Assistant/OTJ Veterinary Nurse and Dog Trainer who lives in Toronto.

She has worked with and trained wolves, big cats, bears and primates for film and originally began learning training dogs and learning about the language of animals at the age of 7 with Hungarian grandfather and horse/dog devotee George Egon Fallus. She has just completed an expedition to the city of Inuvik, near the north pole where she helped train sled dogs and offered training by donation to Inuvik natives. She currently lives with a Bullmastiff rescued from gang violence, a Presa Canario, a mastiff cross rescued from British Columbia, a rescued wolf hybrid, a rehabilitated feral cat, and cat she and her husband rescued with the Vancouver police.

She can be reached at her website,

Lex Fredericks - EzineArticles Expert Author

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