Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dog Training

Took some time off during lunch yesterday to visit the bookstore, thinking of getting a book on dog training. I browsed through the small collection of dog books which were available and as I repeated the titles to myself, I was mildly amused. "How to speak to your dog", "Communicating with your dog", "Reading your dog's mind", ... these were some of the titles! I felt I could be regarded as a little neurotic trying to learn a 3rd language talking to dogs and mastering dog psychology too.

More ironically, in the 9 years that I have been having a dog, I never read a single book about dog training or dog behaviour. Now that my pet dog is a senior, I am learning to retrain him like a puppy. The truth is it took me a long time to realise that training a dog is not just about "sit", "stay", "no"... essentially obeying basic commands. It is about helping dogs achieve a balanced state of mind (I borrowed that from the Dog Whisperer). Since there is not a "one size fits all" solution, being balanced is the only way to have assurance that dogs can remain calm when confronted with different challenges and situations. With a reliably trained dog, we can then look forward to truly rewarding experience from dog ownership.

In the last 6 months, I spent most of my free evenings training my dog. He is generally nice but had suffered from the "Napoleon Syndrome", i.e. small dog with big ego. We spent half an hour walking everyday, repeatedly performed basic commands such as "sit" and "down", also confronting objects he feared in the past. All these were done to re-establish myself as his "pack leader". Overall, we have had much success with the training, although I have not been able to correct some of his undesirable behaviour. So it is still "work-in-progress" and I think it always will be until I start howling...