Buster – Equipment choices and the role of exercise in effective dog training

Buster is safe, relaxed, content and in the shade. He is protected from people who want to invade his personal space and pet him. Almost like being in a crate or den. He can be easily restrained but is not being restrained. (Note the slack leash) Down stay works in a cafe, restaurant or at a friend’s house. In the house or on the patio. Safe, not invading people’s personal space by jumping up or begging for food. Good Boy, Buster!

So now I have Buster in a safe environment (see Buster – setting up for success)

What equipment do I need to take him through kindergarten?

Buy the store – not!

I have decided not to give you a list of stuff to go out and buy, over the next few weeks I will introduce equipment that will help and support our goal of having Buster be the best dog he can be and explain as I am going along what, why and how to use each one. You can then choose whether you focus on that particular behavior and think the equipment will help you achieve your goal. Bear in mind that I am an acknowledged equipment junkie and have, over a period of many years, literally bought every new piece of equipment with every promise of making life easier, the dog smarter, and taking away my clients pain in the most effective way possible. I have come to the conclusion after spending thousands of dollars that if you learn the basic principles of how dogs learn and you apply them diligently you will get the results you deserve. All you really need is a leash, a collar and a piece of rope (and even those are not absolutely essential if you are stuck shipwrecked on a desert island with a dog). All the rest is profit for the pet stores.

Profit is not a dirty word. It makes the world go around. When I spend money in a pet store and they make a profit they stay in business, provide better service, they add stock, something that I might really need will be on the shelf instead of having to order it. They are happy, I like being around happy people. They employ people, employment is good, it gives people a sense of purpose and then they have money to spend as well. This is why I like to spend in the local stores, the currency stays in the neighborhood and we all profit from that in the end. It is healthy for the community.

If you really think that the right way to teach your dog not to pull on the leash is to tie his elbows together with some kind of harness for the rest of his life then I don’t think you will be reading this blog trying to learn something new.

Regardless of what the all night channel tells you!

Those six-pack abs for guys, those overnight wrinkle reducing creams for ladies, or vice versa, are hallucinations!

There are no short cuts, magic leashes, magic collars or magic sprays or lotions.

Here is a clue, train the dog to walk on a slack leash! Then you don’t even need a leash!

Learning is faster and easier for everyone, human and dog, when you reduce anxiety.

The first few days I am going to take Buster out in public and evaluate his performance, his behaviors and his personality. I am not going to correct him at all. I don’t want to be part of the problem. It would be totally unfair to be trying to correct him for doing something that comes naturally, or that he has already learned, when I have not taught him what it is I do want him to do. I watch him very closely all the time, looking for subtle clues and not so subtle clues that will give me accurate information about his wants and needs. This evaluation gives me the structure and detail for his training program to address his sensitivities. Each dog is different. The basic training of tricks is simple but unless I address his individual emotional stressors he will never be all he can be. The anxiety would also make the training harder, slower and certainly more stressful than necessary. This would cause frustration and tension for both of us, but more importantly it would rely on my presence ( my authority, skill and experience) for him to perform the behaviors and would not transfer easily to his family. That is not learning what we want him to learn. I hate it when that happens, learning is faster and easier for everyone, human and dog, when you reduce anxiety. I truly would like to (metaphorically) tattoo that on your forehead so you see it every morning in the mirror. (Did I say that out loud? 🙂 )

Before I take Buster out for training in public I let him play and wrestle and “get his kinks out” so that he is not wound up like a top when we leave the house.

Here is a short clip of Buster and Jumping Jack Flash having a little work out. Jack is teaching Buster that he is not as important as he used to think, demoting him by gently controlling the play. Humphrey and Ted are parenting, they are the playground supervisors, there to see fair play.

2 thoughts on “Buster – Equipment choices and the role of exercise in effective dog training

    • Tim, Buster is an awesome dog! You got really lucky! So did he! I am so thankful that you have enrolled him in school, he could have been such a handful if left to his own devices!
      He is so funny and spirited and mischievous, playful and sassy. He is bright, intelligent, quick to learn and quick to take advantage when he sees an opportunity 🙂

      I love him!
      Robin

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