Make Dog Training A Family Affair

sophy.When beginning obedience training there is quite often one request from my client.  They want the dog to be able to work for all members of the family including mom, dad as well as the kids.  I always explain that it is a very reasonable request and after the dog is trained we will teach the entire family how to work with the trained dog.

Some dog owners would like the entire family involved in the training however, I explain to them that is not the ideal situation.  You see dogs actually pick up on body language before the verbal command.  Because everybody has a different body language trying to train a dog with multiple people can be very confusing for the dog.

In fact I have had clients that after the 3rd or 4th lesson will cheat by having a spouse do some training even though I have explained why it is not beneficial to the dog or the training process.  They are really surprised when after watching the dog work for a few minutes I say you guys have both been training the dog haven’t you?  They are always surprised that I am able to tell.  As a trainer I can spot a dog that is confused and that is exactly what happens to a dog that is being trained by more than one person in the beginning stages of training.

I always explain to the client that it should be one person doing the training for the entire program.  I let them know that we will be taking a bunch of baby steps to create a nicely trained dog.  I inform them that at the end of the training we are then going to take the trained dog and teach the other spouse how to work with the trained dog.  In fact we can do that at the last lesson.

Once the dog is working well for both adults then you can start to include the children.  Now keep in mind that a dog generally considers a child to be a playmate rather than an authority figure.  How well the child will do working the dog has a lot to do with the child’s age and his/her desire to be the alpha.  I always explain to the children that when they’re working with the dog it’s not playtime it’s working time and they should act as if they are the master and not a playmate.

Now I know some dog trainers will disagree with me about only one person working with the dog at a time.  However I can tell you that I’ve seen a few trainers who will work with the dog and the entire family but end up with an untrained dog.  So give my technique a try to see if it works for you and your family.

Remember my slogan “life with a well-trained dog is priceless


Mark Mansfield

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