Dog obedience has come a long way since I started taking and teaching classes almost 20 years ago. Back then, we thought we were progressive by using a braided choke chain instead of a metal one and by starting to use treats.
Well the treats were the right idea, but we’d still snap the choke to get our dog’s attention – in retrospect a rather mixed message I’d say.
Today the latest training philosophies are based on building blocks of behavior; rewarding each small step in the right direction, allowing the dog to chose to do the behavior you are ultimately looking for. By engaging the dog in the process, not only does the behavior become more solid, the dogs enjoy doing it.
If there’s a down side to this approach to training, it’s that it takes more patience and discipline on our part to work at our dog’s pace rather than our own, but the pay off is really worth it.
By way of example, check out this great video from Jean Donaldson called Conditioning an Emotional Response. The video shows how to condition a dog to wearing a Gentle Leader.