Reflections From Sophie: What Are You Training Your Dog To Do?

Intro from Holly: I gave Sophie an assignment to write this post and explore the different reasons that we train our dogs.

When I was a young dog owner, and then a young trainer, it never really occurred to me that you wouldn't train your dog to be a good pet in the big city. My world was blown apart when I sat in on my sister-in-law's Protection (PSA) Dog Club. What I saw there was the complete opposite of what I had been taught and what I believed to, well, just be the thing you're supposed to do. For example, instead of promoting a calm and quiet dog, they would promote a huge drive in the dog in order for it to perform the highly specialized and incredible tasks that it was trained to do. However, the amazing part was that a well trained PSA dog could turn off their drive like a switch.

What this experience taught me is that there are different reasons for training a dog. What is the job they will be expected to perform? Is it to be a great companion for walking around the neighbourhood? Protecting your livestock, or you? Competing in Agility or Obedience trials? Helping the blind navigate their home? Offering emotional support to an individual? All of these questions will determine how to train your dog and the tools you will use to do it.

So that being said, read on for Sophie's Reflection on our training and our learning.

- Holly

Reflections From Sophie: What are you training your dog to do?

Recently Holly has begun training sessions with me as I learn more about the world of dog training. It’s interesting for me to be able to piece together what happens out in the “field” with all the skills I'm learning about dog behaviour, training tools and pack mentality. Our training sessions have been incredibly beneficial for me and have opened my eyes in so many ways, you could almost say that I'm seeing myself through the packs’ eyes.

In addition, I’ve been reading different trainers' philosophies, watching many videos, going on training walks with Holly - nevermind the long lectures Holly gives me (eye roll - JUST KIDDING!).

The world of dog training runs very deep, and everyone has a different idea or opinion on it. But before you can even talk about different training methods, I've learned that it's important to have a clear idea of what you're training your dog to do. That decision will help you decide the methods in which you do the training.

So, here is a quick rundown about what I've learned about different kinds of dog training:

Behaviour training: This is basically anything that teaches the dog good behaviour around people and other animals. It usually includes basic obedience training with the goal of making a good citizen out of your dog. This could also include working on "problem" behaviours such as resource guarding, reactivity and separation anxiety.

Obedience training: This is teaching your dog to be obedient through the use of commands like sit, stay and down etc. One could even compete in high-level Obedience Trials!

Sporting Training: This includes anything and everything from Agility, Racing, Dock Diving, Protection, Fly ball, Disc, etc!

Vocational training: This training is for working dogs such as Service dogs, Therapy dogs, Search and Rescue, Sniffer dogs, Herding dogs, Hunting dogs, and more.

Those are very broad and basic categories, but really helped bring into perspective the different roles that dogs can play in our lives.

Did you know that Jaxsley, Holly's border collie, used to have a job herding cows on a farm before being adopted?

At Silver Jet, we focus on behaviour and obedience training for family pets, helping your pet practice great behaviour whenever they are with us, and our standards are set very high! We expect the best from your dog and will help and support them as they learn the Silver Jet ways of being the best dog they can be.

Recently we brainstormed a list of what we expect from the dogs and ourselves every time we are out with the pack and we check in weekly to see if we are both sticking to it. It really helps hold me accountable to the dogs, and to myself. It’s so incredibly important to be consistent and patient at all times, seriously, consistency is key! - Maybe I'll get a chance to write about our expectations another time.

I am looking forward to sharing more as I learn and grow as a pack leader, I have to say though I am loving the journey so far.


Outro from Holly: It should be noted that all of the specialized things that you train your dog to do still require a really solid handler-dog relationship and training foundation in all of the basic skills. I would almost go as far as to say that you need those 2 things to actually be much, much stronger than you would need for a non-working dog. There is very little room for error in some of those dog professions, and the trust between the dog and the handler must be paramount.

But, I will stop my lecture (insert eye-roll ) here and ask you to open your eyes to the world around you. Ask around. Does your friend's dog do agility? How is it different or the same? Do you know any therapy dogs in your neighbourhood? Service dogs?

Until next time,

Holly, Duke and Jax

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