Friday, October 10, 2008


Welcome to my new blog, DogsDeserveFreedom! In this blog, I will discuss my thoughts on dogs, dog ownership, dog breeding and dog training. I'm sure other things will come up as we go along, but I will try to keep to the topic. I truly believe that all Dogs Deserve Freedom. So, what does that mean? That means that every dog has the right to be free and in order to make this happen, all dog owners have the responsibility to properly prepare, train and educate their dogs to give them that freedom.

I am going to state some simple facts before I begin. These are not the be-all and end-all of my beliefs regarding dogs, but it is a good place to start:

- I believe in Crate Training
- I believe that dogs should be able to function on leash without harming themselves, their owners, or other people/dogs.
- I believe you should be able to trust your dog to interact safely with children/other animals/adults in any situation
- I believe that breeders should breed responsibly and that BackYardBreeders (BYB) are making more problems by helping us fill our shelters with poorly bred dogs
- I believe you should be able to take your dog to a restaurant and your dog should be well enough trained to take a nap under your table without begging for food or bothering anyone around

I would like to take a few moments to talk a bit about training since the essence of this Blog is to give your dogs the Freedom that they Deserve.

I am amazed at the dog training world today. There are some really good trainers out there, and then there are the nut-jobs. It is quickly becoming a dog-eat-dog world in the dog training sector. I see people jockeying for the 'top' in the dog training world - many trainers will bad-mouth others. Just in my area alone there are almost a dozen different "trainers" and only two or three will say good things about the others ... all the rest have nothing good to say. Makes you wonder at that - didn't their parents ever tell them that if they "don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

We have trainers with shows on TV that have disclaimers on each episode warning people that for their own safety, not to do this at home. We have trainers that focus only on accomplishing the "trick" and ignore the behaviours. We have trainers that focus only on what I call the Soft Skills, or the Behaviours, and believe that tricks are for show. We have the quick-fix trainers that will see results immediately but then have Behavioural problems down the road. We even have training tools that people use and so they don't have to bother training! I will likely touch on each of these things at least once during my time blogging here. There are more dog training theories and methods out there than you could shake a stick at. There are NILIF, Clicker Training, Obedience Training ... the list is SO very long.

So, to open this up ... which training methods have you used? Which ones do you like? Which ones don't you like? Tell me about them - give me some fodder to use for my blog!


Barb said...

Hi! I saw you on Dog-Gone Fugly. I have to admit, at first when I saw your title I was afraid you might be an animal rights extremist who doesn't believe in keeping pets!! :-) "Let the dogs run free" ya know?
But this looks interesting! Dog training is a topic near and dear to my heart. I've been competing in AKC obedience for over 20 years, and have seen a LOT of changes and different training styles. I'm ashamed to say I started out as a "yank and jerk" type trainer, that's how I was taught. But my dogs hated it so I soon transitioned to softer and softer techniques, although still mostly compulsion oriented.
I started clicker training about 5 or 6 years ago, and while I still use a smattering of other methods for different problems and tasks I do love it. My dogs - while smart - do tend to take a lot of motivating. As in "What's in this for me?" :-) So clicker training is a great fit for that personality.

Sarah said...

What do you mean by 'free'? Free to move about without a leash? Free to go to stores and restaurants, etc., with their owner?

I've been to various training classes with my dog, some at a pet store chain and some at a good, professional local kennel. What I find frustrating is the limited goals of dog training classes - all they seem to want to do is teach relatively quiet, relatively focused dogs essential commands - sit, down, heel, stay. Anything more complicated than that, and they just sort of shrug and recomend private lessons. I compare this to my riding lessons, where some of my most interesting and informative lessons have come from watching riders struggle with challenging horses, and I get exasperated. With horses, we seem to spend a lot of time working on communicating with them verbally and physically - with dog training, all we seem to do is either apply pressure or squeal "Cookies!" to try to force/bait them off any distractions. There is very little discussion, very little theory or conversation about how dogs think, about how they respond to body language, about their sense of smell, etc. I do NOT mean the tired old wolves and alpha theory, or a big discussion about how their instincts excuse all behaviors. I mean something more like what horse people do - understand WHY they do X, but require that for everyone's well-being that they CHANGE their behavior to suit us. I get very, very little of this in training classes.

Sarah said...

"I compare this to my riding lessons, where some of my most interesting and informative lessons have come from watching riders struggle with challenging horses, and I get exasperated."

I should add, 'watching instructors help riders with challenging horses' - even though it takes time away from me if I'm in the class, you learn valuable stuff about training in general, if the instructor is any good. You don't get the same thing in dog classes.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Barb, glad to have you here. I think that we all try different styles of training. Where we end up is what is important. While trying the different training styles, our dogs will let us know what works and what doesn't! I've tried all sorts of different methods. For example, clicker training worked really well for my herding mix dog, but when applied to my retriever mix or beagle mix, it didn't do it for them.

"What do you mean by 'free'? Free to move about without a leash? Free to go to stores and restaurants, etc., with their owner?"

Sarah, I mean that owners should train their dogs to such a degree that they can move about in any situation with or without a leash. If you took a dog to a dog show (for example) where there is a room filled with barking dogs (all of which are intact), could you walk around without a leash and KNOW without a doubt that your dog won't leave your side for anything? That is part of what I mean by 'Free'.

Yes, I believe they should be able to go to restaurants. In many parts of Europe, they can, however, here in North America they are not allowed. I will get into this in another posting in detail.

Sunny,Scooter, (sometimes Jamie) said...

I am not trying to be argumentative, but I would like to know your experience with dogs, how long, in what capacity, etc.
Just wondering.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Hey Jamie, you're not being argumentative! I have no issues telling you my history with animals.

I have been actively working with shelter dogs for the last 5 years. In the last year I have limited the ones I will work with and foster to the ones that are deemed "unadoptable" which means they are too agressive, shy, etc to be adopted. Many have difficult backgrounds and all I work with come with behavioural issues.

I worked as an assistant at a vet clinic for just over a year and for the last 4 years have continued going in for the difficult ones that extra hands are needed for (emergency surgeries, etc).

I have owned dogs and other animals all my life. I have trained horses (trained two of my own and was an exercise rider at a thoroughbred breeding/training farm). I have clicker trained rabbits and cats. I have almost potty trained my cockatiels - still a few accidents, but they are getting better :)

Although I work full time now in a non-animal field, I am currently working towards my CCPDT certification and I am also working through a Behaviour Analysis (Behaviour Modification) course from one of the local Colleges in my area.

Charity, Katie, Louie & Natalie said...

Very interesting blog. I'm looking forward to reading more.

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Training your dog is the best you can do for your pet as a way of showing love and care. Dog clicker training is especially effective as a means of behavior modification in dogs.
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