Can we all agree that sometimes training your dog from the comfort of your own home can be indispensable? Whether you’re working from home to stop the spread of a worldwide virus, or you simply want to train your reactive dog an a group class just won’t cut it, we’re here to help.
The Most Important Aspect of In-Home Training
Before you can delve into the world of in home obedience training, you need to come to terms with the most important part. There are lots of really important angles when it comes to training your dog from home, including addressing why the behavior is occurring, determining the best training route, choosing the correct methods, etc.
However, none of those aspects are the most important when it comes to in-home training, or frankly any dog obedience training. The absolute and undeniable most important part of in-home obedience training is not the dog or their behavior, but you.
The You Factor
Don’t worry, that’s not a call out insinuating that you are ruining your dog’s behavior. I mean sure, you probably are (only joking!) but that’s not why you’re the most important part of your dog’s training. The actual reason is because you are the one who is spending the vast majority of time with your dog.
You and your family are providing all of your dog’s training, and all of their feedback for good or bad behavior. That’s why you are the most important part! Because unless your trainer can adequately teach you what your dog needs to be doing and why your dog’s training can’t withstand the test of time.
A good trainer or training program (such as our Ultimate Barking Solution) provides you with all the information that you need to work with your dog, as well as everything you need to ensure you aren’t reinforcing your dog for inappropriate behaviors, and you are reinforcing them for behaviors that you want!
The Feedback Loop
That topic brings us back to another common mistake in training, the feedback. When we address a given behavior, we tackle it from several different angles at once. We won’t go into them all, because we would be here all day, but we will look at two important ones.
The first is how you react to inappropriate behavior, and the second is how and if you react to appropriate and wanted behavior. Even if you tackle both of these correctly, you aren’t quite getting the entire picture of training, but many mistakes happen when pet owners, and even trainers, tackle these approaches incorrectly by laying too heavily on either one.
The Aversive Mistake
Essentially, many trainers and training programs get this wrong in their focus on a single aspect over the other. Many aversive or punishing programs focus on the reaction to inappropriate behavior. Let’s take jumping for an example.
“Old School Joe” slaps a shock collar on the dog and shocks them anytime they jump on a guest. Problem solved, right? Without even addressing where this punishment could go wrong (hint, there are lots of ways it could) let’s look at it in a purely behavioral sense.
By focusing only on reacting to the inappropriate behavior, Ol’ Joe is failing to provide his dog with an alternative to that jumping that he doesn’t want. He tries to suppress a behavior without teaching the dog what they should do instead because he is “treating” a symptom rather than addressing the cause.
The Over-The-Top Reinforcer
However, just because “Joe Old School” has it right, doesn’t mean “Julie New Wave Rainbows and Butterflies” has it entirely correct either. Sure, using only reinforcement isn’t going to cause potentially dangerous associations for the most part like punishment will. But that doesn’t mean it will fix your behavioral problems either.
An approach focused solely on the “positive reinforcement” aspect tends to simply throw treats at good behavior. Of course, this misses out on other very important aspects that don’t involve direct training, such as teaching the pet owner how they should actually react to their dog’s behavior.
Sure, we only use positive reinforcement techniques and never employ any aversive or punishing methods. However, that doesn’t mean that our in-home dog obedience training methods only involve giving your dog treats either.
The All-Around Approach to In Home Dog Training
When it comes down to it, our training programs work because they look at your dog as a whole, instead of looking at your dog’s behavioral symptoms individually. We aren’t treating your dog’s annoying barking, we are treating why your dog is barking to stop the barking in the first place.
All the while, we simultaneously manage the behavior and teach you what you should be doing to communicate with your dog more clearly. Because dog training isn’t about stopping bad behavior, it’s about making everyone’s lives better and more cohesive.
The Big Picture of Dog Obedience Training
My goal as a dog trainer is not to teach a person’s dog a “place” command and show them how to teach a stay until their dog falls asleep. My goal as a trainer is to teach people how to live with their dogs.
It’s to make sure that pet owners understand why the behavior is happening, and everything that goes into that behavior, and their training to ensure they have the best success. Because to train your dog in your home, you have to be able to understand what you’re doing.
The most important aspect of a dog trainer is that they are a good teacher, the dog training comes second. In the end, if you have a full understanding of your dog, why they do what they do, and how you can react properly to stop it, you will have success.
The real key to success in-home dog obedience training is, and always has been, all about you. So in any training program, ask questions if you need to, pay attention, and make sure you understand not only what you should be doing, but also why!