While taking my three dogs for their daily walks I often get comments on how well behaved they are, how calm they are, 'what amazing dogs they are', and usually jokingly throw on if I could help train their dog to be that good. The most popular comments seem to be "My dog usually is the one walking me!" "You're lucky to have such well mannered dogs." and "Wow, your hands are full."This got me thinking... People seem to just assume that some dogs are born well behaved, and I happen to be lucky enough to have acquired three of them. But the truth is I've put a lot of time into the training of my dogs. I started from scratch, not knowing a thing, but dog training has always come pretty easily to me. So why are so many people surprised when they see three big dogs walking nicely, obviously not being forced or motivated by any tools (prong collars, muzzles etc.) by someone not physically able to use physical force for the dogs to behave? And why don't these people seem to be able to train their dogs the same way? I mean, it seems so easy and straight forward to some.
But it's not,
There are three keys to being a good dog trainer, and luckily, all of them can, to an extent, be improved if one wills them to be. So what are these three keys? Technical skills, psychological knowledge and personality are the three major factors in the separation of the good, mediocre and great dog trainer.
The obvious one is the technicalities of dog training, such as techniques, timing, consistency etc. This is the easiest type of dog training knowledge to get, as there are countless books and articles on the subject, so long as you are choosing a successful, up-to-date technique.
The second, subtler quality to a good dog trainer is knowing how a dog thinks. You can know everything in the world about dog training and know nothing about what makes a dog function, and find that your training has come to a quick halt. This aspect is also one that some people tend to have an edge over other people. If you have grown up with dogs all your life, you probably have a bit of a sixth sense as to what your dog is thinking and what goes on in a dogs mind. While we are still just scraping the surface of dog cognition, we do know some vital things about them that can help immensely with their training.
The next, and very important aspect to dog training is your personality. This may be the hardest to change, and by change I do not mean changing who you are or your whole personality. Instead, little alterations in someone's personality can greatly influence how good of a dog trainer they are, and these alterations are usually for the better. For example, a very uptight and nervous person will have trouble training a very uptight, nervous dog. Your dog feeds off of your energy, and can often read you better than you can read yourself. So take a deep breath, relax, and continue forward with a loose leash and calm mind. Another example is someone who gets frustrated easily. Frustration is a big no-no in dog training, as it usually counteracts any training you are doing, or have done, and can make the dog confused and frustrated itself. So take another deep breath and distract yourself, and come back to training once you are calmed down.
Some people are born naturals at dog training, they have the right demeanor, have grown up around dogs and have acquired a vast knowledge on dog training and cognition. Others, not so much. Which is perfectly fine, it just means they'll have to work twice as hard, but will reap twice the reward for their hard earned work when they start getting people asking them to train their dogs.
It may be more work than expected, but the reward of having a well mannered friend to follow you rain or shine, good days and bad, is so worth it.