Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition: My Training Principles

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My Training Principles

I don't know really what to call this. "Philosophy" seems too pretentious while "Method" might not be right either. Beliefs? Principles? Hmm...Principles might work. I'll go with it for now.

---Reteaching before correction, redirection before reteaching: When Wally's messing up, I will first redirect his attention to me, then giving the direction again. If that fails, then I will reteach the behavior. If I'm certain he knows what he "should" be doing, then I will correct, and then restate/reteach the desired behavior.

---I will reward before punishing: What I mean by this is that I will establish what's right before I say what's wrong. Basically say "yes, that's what I want" before I tell him what I don't want. When first teaching a behavior, I will get a success before doing any punishment.

---We have markers, I will use them when at all possible: I taught him these things to keep communication clearer between us. I should use them always.

---Emotions never generate punishment: I will never punish/correct any emotional responses shown by Wally. These responses are not rational, but instead are just reactive. As such, my best move is to diminish the impact at the moment and then work on changing the reaction going forward.

---I will respect and acknowledge Wally's signals: Regardless of what I'm doing, what he's doing (or not doing) and what I would rather him do (or not do), I will strive to always return a signal with a signal and respect and recognize what his signals are telling me, and act accordingly.

---I will try at all times to make training enjoyable: I always want Wally to have as much fun as possible. If there's times where things get hard, I will try to bring his spirits back up before continuing training. An eager and actively thinking Wally is a better training experience for the both of us.

---I will try at all times to make Wally use his brain more and use my brain less: He has to think and problem solve. Solving the problem for him won't help him in the long run, especially if this is a behavior I want him to do on his own eventually. I will help with the basic foundations. Once the challenge goes up, it's all on him to use the basics to achieve success.

---To go with the above, I will try to never exceed Wally's current level of ability: I will push and test his level of ability so that he can extend it on his own, but I will try my best to never start beyond his ability.

---I am to use all of my creativity to develop ways of explaining tasks to him: I should spare nothing that is within my own ability to explain things when he has trouble understanding, and if something is beyond my ability, my job is to extend my own ability, just as I expect him to extend his.

---Above all else, I will respect, enjoy, and accept the dog he is, the effort he gives, and his strengths and weaknesses - never in spite of his short comings or things he just can't do. As the saying goes: He thinks I'm the most wonderful person around, it's my job to live up to that. Everything else is just my way of getting there.