Obedience Training the Fun, Natural Way All dogs are born knowing how to sit, and stay, and heel, and lie down, and come when called. These are not "tricks" or unusual, foreign behaviors that need to be taught. Dogs know this stuff already.And the simple truth is that "All animals learn best through play."
Knowing this, should you put your pup in a class with a lot of other puppies and get him to him stop playing so he can "learn?" Or is it better to introduce each "new" behavior as part of a play session with just the two of you, so he can focus only on your commands?
How We Work We only do private sessions and owner-orientation classes, no puppy obedience classes. That's because puppies don’t have the emotional stability or physical endurance to enjoy learning much of anything in the distracting and structured setting of a class when all they want to do is jump around and play. And since all obedience behaviors are analogues of the predatory motor patterns of wild wolves, and since the normal behavioral progression in nature is for wolf pups to not join in on the hunt until they're at least 7 - 9 months old, it makes sense to wait to teach most obedience behaviors until your puppy's body, mind, and emotions are more mature. Otherwise training becomes a negative experience for the pup, no matter how "positive" the class instructor tries to make it.
It can be hard to go against the current belief system that tells people that they have to start training their puppies right away. But Mother Nature has been guiding and directing the emotional and behavioral development of puppies for millions of years. Puppy Stuff We start when the puppy is 8 wks. old. We come to your home and show you how the gentle, unobtrusive way to manage things like mouthing, nipping, chewing your shoes, carpets, and furniture, jumping up, etc. without interfering with the pup's natural emotional development. During this period it's important for the puppy to decide how and when he wants to play. We don't want to force him to learn anything. Puppies also want to trust us implicitly, so we teach you how to redirect your pup's energy without causing her to become fearful or mistrustful of you.
When your pup is older, and is in a potentially dangerous situation—for example she sees a squirrel on the other side of the highway, or the leash breaks when you're crossing a busy intersection—you don't want her to have even the barest glimmer of mistrust that might keep her from instantly coming back to you as soon as you call her name.
At about 14 wks. your puppy will have the physical control necessary to start the housebreaking process. We'll give you crate training schedules, helpful tips on getting the puppy to go outdoors every time, and we'll show you why using treats to reinforce natural elimination behaviors can actually create food-related behavioral problems later on in life.
Around the same time, or a little shortly after that, we'll show you the natural way to socialize your pup and teach him to walk on a leash, etc. We help you introduce the pup to gentle commands like, "Wait...", "Okay!" and "Out..." We also teach you the right way to play with your pup. After trust, play is the single most important building block of learning.
Obedience Instruction When the pup is finally physically and emotionally developed enough (around 7 - 9 months), we teach you how to train basic obedience commands like walking next to you at all times, sitting, lying down, and staying on command. Since treats are a pretty good way to get any pup's attention, some of this is done with food, but food is primarily just a bridge to overcome the natural resistance a puppy feels when trying to relate to a vertical being. It's not a one-size-fits-all training solution. And even though we use food initially, we show you how to start using play as the central organizing force in training. Remember, this model of training is based on the way police dogs, drug enforcement dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs are trained. And they're the happiest, best-trained, and most social animals on earth. So there's no question that it's the best model of learning to use with your dog.
For owners interested in pinpoint control we also teach advanced obedience behaviors like "the down while running," "heeling off-lead," and our "patented" recall: while your dog is running away away from you at full speed, he'll turn on a dime and come running back even faster!
How Long Does it Take? When you do the exercises correctly, dogs are capable of learning almost any command in just 4 repetitions. However, you will have to repeat the lesson at other times of day and in other locations so that the puppy can "cross-contextualize" what he's learned the first time. And these techniques are so fun and easy you’ll only need to spend a few minutes a day on teaching each behavior or command. It’s mostly a matter of learning how to play with your dog and integrating obedience skills into the process. Our sessions with you usually last about an hour and a half. But the sessions you have with your dog should only take 5 - 10 minutes, max, though you can do as many short sessions a day as you like. The whole point of Natural Dog Training is to make learning as fun and as easy as possible, for the dog and the owner!
Getting Started One of the most important aspects of this whole process is the phone call. This gives you a chance to get a feel for who we are and how we work. And it gives us a chance to find out what your expectations are, what your dog or puppy is like, and what you're like as well. Training is a holistic process. We don't just train the dogs, we also teach the owners.
For a FREE telephone consultation call: (212) 615-6659.