Colin Spence runs dog training classes in Snaresbrook and has been using force-free methods to discipline man’s best friend – and their owners – for 23 years. Here he explains why such classes are important.
In my view, a vital aspect of dog ownership should include responsibility for not only the animal’s welfare and wellbeing but also for their training needs. Most dog owners do train their dogs in their home and – as best as they can – in the outside environment as well. This is very good, in my opinion; at least they have done something to improve the diligence of their pet.
But training a dog is not as clear-cut as some might think. To get dogs to fulfil good, solid and trusted behaviours, we first need to understand how dogs actually think and learn how the environment plays a part in influencing the behaviour of every dog, no matter where that environment may be, indoors or outdoors.
Only when owners truly understand how easily dogs are influenced by – and how they learn from – the environment will they be closer to understanding how to add on the training side (operant conditioning). Dog trainers that are qualified and certified have invested time in their own education. Those that use humane training methods are the type of trainer all dog owners need, as they can rest assured they will get sound advice along with productive training for their dogs. Look for a trainer that runs structured classes with schedules each week.
Training classes offer dogs a safe environment in which to learn. As the owner, you too will learn how to use distractions and how to use the environment to your advantage. Ultimately, you will learn how to train your dog to be focused on you during the session. This is incorporated with your dog’s development around other dogs, learning how to be calm and sociable and able to relax while there is movement around them.
The trainer should be able to guide everyone in how to be consistent, including the tools owners should have to ensure the session runs smoothly, such as having the right type of harness that fits correctly and suits the individual dog.
Dog training also provides an education in the laws that come with owning such a special pet, and what that means to all that have a dog in their care. Classes provide the social network all dogs need, but they also teach the owner how to get the very best from their dog, by learning various training methods that are science-based and humane, and that reinforce good behaviours.