Spring Canine's Training Philosophy

 

Dogs have lived with humans and have been selectively bred for specific jobs for tens of thousands of years.  They have been our guardians, hunters, herders, helpers and companions.  Humans have created many different breeds that are specialized for many different jobs.  This has created many different natural instincts and tendencies that have been strengthened or weakened depending on the job that breed was designed for.

 

Tendencies are just that - tendencies.  Although the tendencies of a specific breed increase the chances of an owner having those tendencies in their dog, it is not a guarantee of an individual dog having those tendencies.  We can work with those tendencies to achieve what the owner needs from their dog.  It is much easier to work with a dog's natural tendencies than to try to fight against a dog's natural make up.

We do not want to suppress a dog's natural tendencies.  This will create an uphill battle and a constant effort to keep those tendencies suppressed.  Instead, we can work with those tendencies and give them an appropriate outlet.  This way the dog's natural instincts are not frustrated and the owners can have the dog they want to have.

Dogs are not humans that wear furry coats.  We cannot explain things to them.  We do not speak the same language or have the same facial expressions or body language.  We need to show them what we want them to do in a clear, fair way.  If we are not clear they will become frustrated and another inappropriate behavior may manifest within them because of that frustration and lack of clarity.

Most "bad behaviors" are not the result of a dog being spiteful, angry, willful, or attempting to assert dominance.  So called bad behaviors are caused by a behavior being a dog's natural instinct, which is not appropriate in the human world, behaviors that have been unintentionally reinforced by the owner(s), or the dog not being taught the appropriate behavior and being forced to guess what the rules are - and guessing wrong.

In reality, it does not much matter what the dog is thinking.  Although we can certainly ask your dog what his/her motivation might be for doing certain things, your dog cannot answer us in a language that we can understand.

 

All we humans can do is guess at what your dog is thinking.  When we are forced to guess at things, we can guess wrong.  We can avoid this problem by simply teaching our dogs what it is we want them to do.  If we teach our dogs to behave the way we want them to behave it does not matter how they view that behavior.  If we teach them in the proper way, they will prefer to do thing they way we want them to do things. We have the behaviors that we desire and the dog knows how to get what he/she wants.

The exception to this is when your dog is fearful.  As opposed to other mindsets, we can read fear in a dog's body language.  In these cases, we need to identify the fear-causing stimulus, change the association that your dog has to that stimulus and desensitize your dog to that stimulus, thereby reducing your dog’s fear.

Fear is the main cause of aggression problems.  A fear response is rarely the result of one particular stimulus, but rather a combination of stimuli that has pushes your dog over is aggression threshold.  All of the fearful stimuli need to be identified and your dog needs to be desensitized to each stimulus, raising the overall aggression threshold.

Every living dog has the potential for aggressive behavior, much like every living person has the potential for aggressive behavior.  The key to controlling this potential is to raise the threshold for each stimulus until we get to the point where the chances of aggressive behaviors are remote.

 


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