We are an online resource for dog owners and dog trainers or anyone else interested in the art, science and craft of dog training.
My name is Chad Mackin and I have spent the better part of the last 22 years looking for the most fair, humane and effective training methodologies available which consistently produce reliable results in a reasonable amount of time.
I have had the good fortune to be mentored by some amazing trainers and have developed lasting learning friendships with many others.
From all of these experiences I came to believe that all the great trainers share some common threads regardless of their approach or method. These components are all part of what I consider Dogmanship:
- Respect the dog – dogs are amazing beings, they are intelligent, extremely social with a complex range of emotions. They are not objects to be programmed. They are not slaves, nor are they employees. In the best case, they are our partners, friends and allies. We should be the same to them.
- Create motivation to do something rather than to avoid something – Training should primarily be about getting the dog to things, not simply avoid punishment. The quickest fix isn’t always the best fix. It’s worth it to take a bit more time to build a desire to work.
- Be clear – A dog who doesn’t understand what is expected cannot consistently achieve those expectations. Good teachers do everything they can to ensure their students understand. As trainers, it’s vital that we be good teachers.
- Be consistent (but not rigid) – Consistency goes along with clarity, but a good teacher knows when insistence on absolutes will discourage a student. Often, it’s better to treat genuine effort as success.
- Always do what’s best for the dog – Ultimately every great trainer is in the business to help dogs. To do this, it is essential that we understand the dog we are looking at. Canned responses are nice, but knowing when they aren’t the answer is essential.
- Failure to create consistent results reflects on the trainer, not the dog – It’s a poor teacher who blames the student for failure to learn. Motivation is part of the teacher’s job.
- Be joyful – The best trainers I have ever seen all love their work and it is evident when you see them with a dog. Never train a dog when you are angry, frustrated or upset.
- Never stop learning – Perfection is a goal we can never reach, but the best trainers are always trying anyway.
On Force, Punishment and Compulsion:
There is a movement in dog training that believes it is almost never advisable to use any kind of compulsion, force or punishment with a dog. I am not in that group.
There is another group that sees unwanted behavior as something that needs to be punished away. I am not in that group either.
I never want a dog doing something primarily because he’s afraid of not doing it. I want the dog to work from a desire to achieve something cooperative with myself, his owner, or his handler. But that does not mean that there is no room for compulsion.
My approach is to first teach the dog what is expected and build motivation to meet those expectations. When the dog has demonstrated understanding, ability and a reasonable level of willingness, I will round the process out by adding minor consequence for the wrong choice. If I accomplish the first two goals, those consequences can be very subtle and non-threatening. They signify my disappointment and disapproval, not a threat to dog’s well-being. If I find that I have to give too many corrections, then I know I haven’t built the proper foundation and I start teaching again.
I use food, toys, and slip collars or slip leads as my primary training tools, but there are no tools I won’t use when they are the best choice for the dog in front of me.
If these ideas appeal to you, then you will find plenty of resources here, and more will be added regularly. Check out the blog, or listen to our Dog Training Conversations Podcast, or visit our youtube channel. You will find links in menu at the top of the page.
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If you’re in the Chicagoland Area and would like to talk about a dog issue, please contact us through:
DePAW University Canine Campus inc: 630-232-8663