Do we need to use tools to train dogs?
The question that I always struggle to explain to dog owners is the following:
Do we need to use tools like shock collars, clickers or even treats, force or domination to train dogs?
The simple answer is NO. Dogs are intelligent animals and it is not necessary to use tools to train them or to modify their behaviours. The best things that you will need to use to train a dog is TIME & KNOWLEDGE.
Most dogs can learn basic dog training lessons quickly and easily without using anything. What I mean is, for instance, the basics of obedience commands can be taught to a dog very easily. There is no need to involve tools or even treats. I have talked about why I don’t suggest using tools or treats to train dogs in this article before.
The first ingredient for successful dog training is time.
What you need to do is to spend some focused quality time with your dog to build a healthy relationship to start modifying your dog’s behaviour. All the tools and gadgets are just quick fixes and are for those who want things to be done yesterday. They don’t produce solid results and meaningful relationship.
To own a dog and live with a dog one requires a lifetime commitment to the dog. It means you are investing in quality-focused time to be spent with your dog which eventually will develop to a loving and caring relationship. Once you build a healthy relationship with your dog and have taken the right steps of training the basics, I would guarantee you that you won’t need anything but yourself to change or modify your dog’s behaviour and help your dog to get trained furthermore.
Taking the time to build a healthier relationship with a dog will solve most of the bad behaviours. That time could be six weeks or six months or even a year and the reality may be that it may take even longer but every quality moment spent with your dog is a step forward.
Time will heal all the problems where tools, gadgets, force and even treats will cause confusion, lack of trust, stress and damage to the relationship that you are working hard to build and nurture. Don’t rush. Take one step at a time. One day at a time.
What is quality time?
Quality time is not just that the dog lives with human, although it does help that’s not all. For the time to be considered as quality time, dogs need to be healthy and in a positive, happy mindset. If not, the dog will be stressed and unhappy. For the dog to be healthy and happy, you need to fulfil your dog’s needs.
Having your dog on your lap at all times does not mean quality time. All it means is more time spent with a dog with the power of affection only and not the power of knowledge. What you need to focus on is satisfying your dog’s needs.
Why do you need to satisfy the dog’s needs?
Dogs have needs and because dogs don’t make the choice to live with humans, they are not capable of satisfying their own needs that they desperately need. Humans make the choice of selecting the dog and bringing it to their homes. The dog does not have any ability to make choices other than what the human is choosing for the dog.
Dogs have needs that have to be provided throughout their lives. I call them the “five essential daily needs”. These essentials need to be provided on a daily basis in the following order; exercise, training, socialization, care and affection.
Care and affection are the parts that most dog owners focus on and provide the best for their dogs. But dog owners need to focus on the other three essentials as well.
The second ingredient for success in dog training is knowledge.
For your dog to behave properly and for you to avoid using or depending on tools, you need to provide your dog’s five essential needs.
What that means is you need to educate yourself about your dog. You need to know what to do, why you are doing things that you do and you need to make yourself become an educated dog lover.
Dog training is not the only answer to addressing your dog’s bad behaviours. You need to provide a proper amount of exercise, socialization, care and know-how and when to use affection. You need to learn how to communicate with your dog and address its unwanted behaviours.
Taking a six-week dog training course is not the solution. It’s a great start for training your dog but it is not the answer. I have learned and realized this after years of working with dog owners. Dog owners have done the same things for years and have failed at dealing with their dog’s issues.