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.Obedience training actually got its start in the early 1900s specifically as a way of imitating the predatory motor patterns found in wild wolves. For instance, when wolves travel long distances together they often move in synch, side by side, exactly the way you want your dog to walk next to you on the leash. When a wolf pup wants something but isn't sure how to get it, she'll sit. When an adolescent or adult wolf spots a small prey animal like a rabbit or hare, he'll get low to the ground and hold perfectly still. If that sounds like a down/stay, it is. The only real difference when teaching dogs to do these behaviors on command is that we add a verbal cue or visual signal. That's it. So the best way to train a dog is to do it while he's energized and his prey drive has been activated.
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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 dynamic play session with just the two of you, so he can focus only on you and 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. It’s true that a puppy’s mind is like a sponge; it’s ready to soak up everything. But the flip side is that when you apply pressure to a sponge you'll squeeze it dry. And since all obedience behaviors (except the sit) 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. We're told: "Get your puppy into a class as soon as possible!" But the latest research shows show that a half hour of free play creates more structure, emotional stability, social development and impulse control than a full 6 weeks of puppy class. Play also increases brain growth factors exponentially. This is why more and more trainers and dog owners are starting to realize that puppy obedience classes can cause learning deficits, decrease a puppy’s social skills, stunt the pup's emotional growth, and interfere with nature’s blueprint for learning and development. So while puppy play groups are generally a good idea (depending on how they're moderated), puppy obedience classes are actually detrimental to the natural learning process. Mother Nature has been guiding and directing the emotional and
behavioral development of puppies for millions of years. Don't let
a few well-meaning but misguided dog trainers tell you they know better.
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 puppy 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 and she sees a dog she likes -- 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. Plus we introduce to you to two of the most important exercises for training any dog: the pushing exercise, and the "eyes!" 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. 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!
How Much Does it Cost? Prices vary with the trainer you choose and with the number of sessions you want. Package deals offer an opportunity to save money, but that's not our primary purpose for offering them. We want to make sure that our clients make a commitment to getting their dogs trained. Paying for 3 or 5 sessions in advance helps motivate some people to stick with it.
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.