Over the years, I've described my dog training philosophy approach numerous times to all sorts of different people. I've been asked this in a variety of ways- such as whether I use certain training aids, how I would generally approach a certain behaviour issue, or when and how I use punishment during training.
No matter how the question is phrased, students are essentially asking me the same question: "What is your approach to dog training?" And no matter how I answer the question, the underlying principle is the same- I lead with kindness.
To me kindness in dog training goes beyond positive reinforcement training and includes:
Communicating clear and consistent criteria, honouring your important role as the other member of the team
Creating realistic expectations so that you don't set your dog up to fail because you overfaced them
Rewarding good behaviour proactively instead of only chasing unwanted behaviour
Respecting that dogs are autonomous beings with unique needs and wants
Recognizing that dogs thrive when they can make some choices about their lives (within reason)
Recognising that people and society also have rights and considering that in the behaviours you let your dog rehearse
Understanding that dogs have emotions and instincts that drive their behaviour
Asking yourself, when your dog is repeatedly unsuccessful, how you can modify the environment or training criteria to help your dog be successful?
Believing in your dog's ability to reach their training potential, whether it's in sport or every day life
Accepting your dog for who they are, flaws and all, and choosing to focus on the good and those attributes you can influence over time
Using management to prevent problems where possible
Offering forgiveness to yourself for past training decisions or mistakes and choosing to look forward instead
In a world where you can be anything...be kind. Happy training,