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The Gift of Communication

In the old days, dogs would wait to be told what to do. They patiently waited for commands, followed them closely, and did their jobs - sometimes afraid to make a mistake and hear “No!” or be pulled back by a sharp leash jerk. It was a one-way street. Humans talked, dogs listened.

Nowadays, dog training is different. Positive trainers teach skills by helping dogs to learn and figure tasks out on their own. We help them become “thinking, active learners.” We know more about dogs' cognitive skills and emotions, and try to make learning fun. When dogs figure out how to do a skill on their own, they learn faster and remember much better than when they are forced to do it.

New science-based training - using a marker, or clicker - helps a dog understand what we want, and then the dog gets rewarded. When dogs become “active learners,” they are no longer just sitting, waiting to be told what to do. They are constantly trying to figure out what we humans want, and they do it - to become a happy part of the team.

Many dogs are bred to be independent thinkers - they don’t like being bossed around. People call them stubborn. Often, they just don’t understand what we want. But if dogs think the behavior you are teaching then is their idea, they work very hard to get it done. It’s a lot like working with kids. Make it fun, and the job gets done faster.

So training now is a two-way street. You’re giving your dog cues to perform, but you are very attentively watching your dog and listening to your dog, so you can mark the behavior and reward it. When you understand what your dog is thinking and feeling, and how your dog learns, you can change the teaching strategies to make learning easier - and more fun!

You’re basically learning how to speak "Dog".

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