Tag Archives: dog training

Train Your Dog

Ian Dunbar January is National Train Your Dog Month so I thought I’d chat with the inventor of puppy classes and founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (among many, many other things), veterinary behaviorist and author, Dr. Ian Dunbar.

Ian believes that the very best way to train your dog is to incorporate training into your daily routine. He also believes it’s important to consider the dog’s point of view when training, to gain insight as to what each dog in particular finds most enjoyable so that you may then use these favorite things (food, toys, people, or activities) as both distractions and rewards in training.

In this podcast, Ian offers several easy and enjoyable ways to honor both your dog and National Train Your Dog Month including his very favorite exercise “The Dog Walk”.

This exercise takes your average daily stroll to a whole new level. For example, most dogs love sniffing and exploring. Rather than getting annoyed when your dog wants to stop and sniff on a walk, why not intersperse little bursts of heeling, loose-leasing walking, and general attention, with the reward of a few minutes of sniffing and ranging. Now your distraction has become a beautiful life reward and you don’t have to tell your dog that sniffing is verboten.

Training in this way helps handlers to get the very best performance out of a dog because incorporating their favorite things into the teaching process provides as part of the motivation for doing our bidding (which may often including doing things for us that are not intrinsically rewarding for dogs).When you integrate fun into training the line between the two blurs and your dog will enjoy training in and of itself, rather than seeing fun and training as mutually exclusive.

Ian also talks about  his first dog Omaha, reminisces about his favorite dog book, and why he’d rename National Train Your Dog Month if it were up to him. He also implores you to please, train your dog!

Listen in and join us for this, and so much more!

Dog Training: Cues, Commands, Obedience, And Punishment

Dr. Roger AbrantesDog training is a form communication. We attach meaning to cues, signals, or commands to convey information to get our dogs to do what we’d like them to do. In this podcast Dr. Roger Abrantes and I discuss whether the words you use to describe dog training affect your relationship with your dog.

Dr. Abrantes is a dear friend of mine, a scientist, an expert in dog training, a blogger, and someone I very much admire. His experience and knowledge goes way beyond dog training. Roger’s formal education is that of an evolutionary biologist, however, as a well traveled citizen of the world who has lived in places such as Denmark, Portugal, Thailand, and Africa, he has also become a de facto expert in languages, and communication in general.

Words always come along with some sort of association. For example, when requesting a behavior from a dog, such as “high five” or “shake”, many people will tell you they are giving the dog a command. Dr. Abrantes explains that the word “command” has a militaristic connotation. A command is something that is issued and must be obeyed. No questions asked. Disobedience to a command in many cases must be severely punished. But is that really how you see your fun little request to shake your dog’s paw? Must she obey? Or, more accurately, are you simply requesting a friendly interaction with your best friend, or practicing a routine you learned in a dog training session? Is non-compliance truly a punishable offense? Shake is a friendly gesture after all.

Roger points out that before a command becomes a command it is a signal. A dog cannot obey a command he does not understand.

He believes that when we are interacting with, and communicating with our dogs it’s just like communicating with a friend or colleague. We generally don’t command each other but rather signal back and forth in a friendly and reciprocal fashion.

We also discussed whether other words commonly used as dog training vernacular, such as “obey”, should really have a place in describing the partnership that takes place between a human and a trained dog. Especially how often when people use the word “punishment” what they really mean is they are seeking “revenge”.

It was a fascinating conversation, and I hope you’ll tune in below and join in the conversation. Roger and I will be taking questions and entertaining your input in the comments section below.

If you’d like to hear more from Roger he can be found blogging away at both Dog Star Daily and his WordPress blog.