Trainer 1, Trainer 2 or Trainer 3?
Dog training has come a long way over the years. Science progresses, our knowledge grows, we learn and change the ways we do things as a result. These are truly exciting times to be a dog trainer.
With more people than ever owning dogs, there is so much scope to make a real difference in the lives of people and their dogs. So how do we know whether we are delivering the very best training we possibly can?
Dog training is dog training, right?
Surely there are only so many ways you can train a dog? Not so. As dog training has evolved, we have found ourselves with three typical types of trainer. All will get results, but some at the risk of the relationship between dog and owner; some will get results in a training environment but not outside in the real world. And there is one type of trainer that gets real life results and enjoys an incredible relationship with their dogs.
THE THREE TYPES OF TRAINER
THE TRAINER 1
Trainer 1s get results by using force and intimidation. They will use tools such as choke chains, prong collars, shock collars, training discs, noise bottles, rattles, sprays, etc. to force the dog to comply.
Or they may get you to:
- raise your voice to your dog
- use harsh words or a harsh tone
- “show your dog who is boss”
- hold your dog in position, growl at them
- make your dog do what it is told
- show dominance to your dog
They try to force and intimidate and what we see happen is that relationships get damaged and the dog’s behaviour gets worse.
Lauren’s story is a great example of this! Lauren’s dog Popi was barking and lunging at other dogs so Lauren sought the assistance of a trainer to help with this. The trainer was a Trainer 1 and threw a chain at the back of Popi’s legs for grumbling at another dog. It was intended to disrupt the behaviour, but it made Popi more reactive. She became ten times more likely to go, and to go quickly! This was the breaking point for Lauren to turn her passion into a mission (much like mine but without the plastic surgery 😂 – Read On!)
Another major problem with this type of training is that the cure is dependent on the force and intimidation being present, so if you don’t have the tool available then you will not get the desired behaviour. When the tool goes, the behaviour goes too!
Here’s a typical thing a Trainer 1 might say if you encountered one:
“The reason your dog isn’t listening is because you are not in charge enough.”
THE TRAINER 2
These guys are pretty cool. They train dogs using reward based training methods.
What might that look like?
- they use food
- they use toys
- they talk about reward based training
But, the thing about Trainer 2s is that they focus on behaviours. They are constantly telling the dog what to do. They rely on management of the situation. The dog is not taught to think for themselves.
They train the sit, the down, the stay, the recall, but as soon as the dog goes outside the training environment, it all falls apart. The learning just doesn’t translate to real life.
Trainer 2s mean well. They are kind and they get some results but their clients will get discouraged when they leave the class and can’t replicate the results outside or if the toy/food isn’t present. These clients will not return as they are not getting the real life results they need.
THE TRAINER 3
Trainer 3s play concept games. They get real life results because they shape the dog’s brain. They arm dogs with the tools they need to cope with the world. And they have fun while doing it!
Teaching concepts such as impulse control, management of arousal, focus, optimism, calmness, and boundaries, as opposed to behaviours such as sit, down, and stay, teaches the dog to think, to make good choices, and encourages them to want to work with you. The relationship rocks and the results just flow.
You can play games with a dog that teach concepts and actually shape a dog’s brain to continue to make great choices – this is huge!
Behaviours are useful but the reason a Trainer 3 trained dog does them is not because of the way the behaviour was taught, it is down to the concepts that underlie it: self control, focus optimism, grit. And that is all trained through games.
THE QUIZ – Which Are You?
1. What is the best way to get your dog to listen to you?
A – make them listen. Raise your voice, show them who is boss.
B – encourage them to listen by enticing them to do so with food or toys.
C – play games that make them want to listen to you because you have so much fun together.
2. A dog knows how to sit at home but won’t do it in the park. Why?
A – the dog doesn’t know who is boss. Raise your voice and command your dog to sit.
B – the value of your reward isn’t high enough. Get out a higher value toy or treat.
C – your dog is worried, overwhelmed, unable to listen to you in a distracting environment. Play games to build your dog’s confidence, optimism, focus and self control.
3. The best way to get your dog to stay is:
A – shock collar. Use the collar to give them an immediate correction if they move.
B – reward them with food or toys for remaining in place.
C – teach your dog the concepts of self control, calmness, boundaries, optimism, arousal management and get them to make their own great choice to remain in position.
4. How important is your relationship with your dog in your training:
A – relationship is secondary to getting the dog to do as it is told.
B – relationship is important – I want my dog to love me.
C – relationship is everything – I want my dog to choose to be a team with me.
5. What is the point of dog training?
A – suppress behaviour and the boss.
B – teaching behaviours.
C – developing a dog that can think and make great choices, and is able to cope in real life situations.
Count Your Score!
You are a Trainer 1. You get results but at what cost to the relationship? And when the tools go, so does the behaviour. Change is possible – embrace games-based training and see real life results!
You are a Trainer 2. You get results, but only within the training environment. Take it on tour or add real-life distractions and the learning vanishes! Get real-life results by moving to games-based concept training.
You are a Trainer 3. Congratulations! You have embraced the power of games and get real life results.
The Big Question
I realised I wanted to change dogs’ lives by getting real-life results for owners (instead of results in training and nowhere else!) when I encountered a dog chained up on a farm. The dog was a failed sheepdog, trained using Trainer 1 methods. The reason why I “encountered” the dog is because, one day, he escaped from his chain and became worried about the sight of someone tying their shoelace in the distance. He coped with this by jumping at the person and biting numerous times, tearing off their top lip. That person was me, and, that day, I vowed to make it my mission (admittedly in my head as a lack of top lip meant I couldn’t really speak!) to find a better way and show people that better way and that’s games.
So what kind of trainer do you want to be? What needs to happen for you to make it your mission?
Do you want to be a trainer who builds incredible relationships between your students and their dogs? A trainer who sees real life results and trains dogs who are confident, ready and able to cope with the world? A trainer who doesn’t rely on tools to achieve results? A trainer who makes dog training fun?
Here’s the Next Three Steps to Make to Become a Trainer 3 and Get Real-Life Results!
Here are three great ways to get started as a Trainer 3:
- Concept Trainer Bible – grab your copy here to find out everything you need to know about concept training and becoming a Trainer 3.
- Boundary Games – our Boundary Games DVD has games for teaching calmness, self control, and focus as concepts through GAMES. Your dog will see the fun in controlling themselves and learn to make great choices! Check it out here!
3. Leash Off, Game On – This will get you started with games that will get you real-life results while out and about. Transform your recall woes to recall WOWs with games. You can grab a free copy of the games on DVD here!
Change The World
Be a Gamechanger. Make the change and see the benefits. Play concept-based games and get real life results!
“When I first came across games based training, I thought, ‘this is a new way to train. This is so much fun and the dogs find it fun – and they don’t know they are learning, they just know they are having fun’.”
“Training other people with their dogs and through the concept of games, it’s been a massive, massive eye opener as to how much fun the world of dog training can be, and seeing how much fun the people have with their dogs and the relationships they build, it completely gives me goosebumps.”