Home >  Blog >  Dog Training in the Real World

Dog Training in the Real World

Posted by Gail Hudson on 10 May 2022
Dog Training in the Real World

For my very first blog I thought I’d give an overview of what I do, how I do it and why I do it that way.

My priority at Woofs and Wags Pet Dog Training is early and ongoing training and socialisation for puppies, providing a solid education for pups and their owners in their first crucial weeks and months together.  Getting things right in the first place rather than having to fix it later is so much better for everyone.  I particularly want owners to get a good understanding of not only of how to teach their dog something, but also how to notice and respond to how their dog is experiencing a situation.  Our dogs are fabulous at giving us information about how they are feeling and what they are likely to do next, when those signals are noticed, we can prevent all sorts of problems from even starting.

I’d describe “Dog Training” as teaching a dog to respond to cues (a cue is a signal to perform a particular behaviour), increasing the frequency of desired behaviours and decreasing the frequency of undesirable behaviours.  That’s a very simplistic summary, but training dogs means we are influencing their behaviour.

As a trainer I need to have a good understanding of learning theory, and a good ability to read a dog’s body language, amongst many other things.  Because it’s my job to coach and teach people how to train their dogs I need to know why things work, or don’t work and how to adjust what we’re doing depending on the dog-owner team in front of me.  I need to keep the information loop open between the dog and owner by giving feedback about what each is doing and why, so there is clear communication to allow learning to occur.

People sometimes misunderstand why their dog is or isn’t doing something, therefore being able to read and correctly interpret the dog’s body language helps them to better understand what’s going on.  Behaviour is information, so a dog’s body language and behaviour tips us off about their emotions at any given time, which has a huge influence on how they will respond to training at that moment.  It also gives us clues as to what they are about to do, and the ability for us to notice those signals makes a huge difference to the success of training.

I use reward-based training primarily because it’s dog friendly, and my number one priority is the dog’s welfare.  But it’s also human friendly and that’s so important too as most dog owners don’t want to do anything to or with their dog that can potentially cause harm.  Reward-based training is also quick, easy, and effective, and helps owners to ensure their dogs can respond happily and willingly throughout their lives.

I want to make sure that what’s taught in class is relevant and realistic too; I don’t pretend that people will get magical results after one class because that’s not how real life works; it takes time, patience, and practice to train dogs.  Priorities are different depending on a dog’s age; for brand new puppies the priorities are usually toilet training, reducing biting and mouthing, keeping them safe, and understanding about suitable exercise, play and rest time.  As pups start to get out and about away from home, it’s more about ensuring they are calm on walks, teaching lead skills, coming when called, appropriate interactions with other dogs and people and keeping them busy at home.  As dogs get older and more experienced, they can move on to some more advanced skills, so I have a variety of classes to suit different age groups. 

Whilst I am a Dog Trainer, really I’m training people to train their dogs.  It’s the owners who need to develop the skills to live harmoniously with their dogs and to make sure those dogs become good citizens.  Getting started early with a puppy’s education makes the world of difference for the dog itself, the owners, and the community and that’s why my focus is where it is.  Not only do I want the dog-owner teams who come to class to be successful but I’m looking at the long term future of dog ownership.  The more we socialise and train puppies to be calm, happy, friendly and responsive, the less likely we are to have our freedoms and enjoyment of dog ownership restricted into the future.  And that really matters to me!

Author:Gail Hudson
Tags:Reward Based Training

Gentle, Fun and Effective Training for all the Family