THE SECTIONS HERE ARE COLOR CODED FOR EASE OF LOCATING:
1. THEME & DOCTRINE
2. TRAINING REGIMEN DETAILS
4. EXPLOITING INSTINCT
5. OBLIGATIONS OF OWNER/TRAINER/HANDLER
6. DISCERNING BEHAVIOR
7. FOUNDATION & 4 KEY FOCAL POINTS
8. CONTROLLABLE & UNCONTROLLABLE VARIANTS
10. PURPOSE & ABILITY
13. AGGRESSION DEFINED
SCROLL TO THE RIGHT FOR A GUIDE TO FINDING A PARTICULAR SECTION
1. THEME & DOCTRINE
My main theme of training is based upon a foundation of affection, discipline and 4 key focal points of PROPER METHOD, CONSISTENCY, REPETITION, and TIME.
Although most of my training is thru a system of praise/withhold praise, especially in the early stages, it is not a system of coaxing the dog to perform, but rather causing the dog to want to do what he is commanded to do, with a certain degree of force training (meaning that the dog is manually put into the desired position, obviously, especially upon initial teaching of any given task, until they learn it).
When I train dogs, they are not given a choice, but simply do as commanded, once they have learned something, such as when any of us are at a place of employ, we do as told. If we do as the boss says, then we get our reward, or paycheck, perhaps promotions, etc. With the dog, when he does as told, he gets praise and/or petting every time he obeys, even if his praise is merely a simple approval. When he disobeys, he gets little or no praise/affection, a retort, maybe a scolding, and sometimes, he needs a good, quick shake by the scruff of the neck, such as for outright disobedience or refusal to obey, AFTER he has THOROUGHLY learned better. The scruff of the neck is sort of a pressure point, so poking on the upper sides and back of the scruff is a good way to reprimand.
Positive reinforcement only methods we do not use, because those methods are going only with part of the very nature of the dog. Part of the dogs' nature is a need and willingness to learn. Another part of the dogs' nature is that it knows no social or moral restraints which society expects, but the dog does recognize a distinct social ladder within it's pack, or family, and seeks to find his place within that pack, knowing that unless he is the family(pack) leader, then he will be subject to another's will & decisions. Positive reinforcement only does not instill any real subordination to authority, and only partly uses the dogs' loyalty & understanding. And without any discipline or correction, there is no clearly defined master, thus no real restraining force when it really matters. And nature itself teaches the dog to expect to be part of a hierchy, and to be subject to discipline & correction at times.
What positive reinforcement training only does, is to give the dog the idea that if he obeys a command, then he will get rewarded, of course. But if he doesn't obey a command, then he won't get punished in any way, and he just won't get a reward. So he's taught to think like this: I don't feel like being obedient today, and I don't care if I get any attention today, so I'm going to be naughty, and nothing will happen.
There are people whom would never murder or kill another human being because they believe that it is morally wrong, for any reason. There are others whom will refrain from murdering another human, only because they fear being punished for it, rather than due to moral restraint. And since a dog has no sense of moral responsibility, he needs a reason to behave. He obeys your command because he wants praise and acceptance from you. He refrains from disobeying you because he fears/dislikes punishment, whether the punishment is a sharp retort, withholding of affection, or a subduing of the dog physically. (We all know of irregular, good dog behavior, some of which could be called an act of God upon the animal, but that does not replace proper training foundations. That is addressed under UNTAUGHT ACTS OF DOGS).This brings up two points.
Number one, beating on a dog is never needful nor acceptable. Number two, subduing a dog is very necessary. That simply involves putting the dog on the ground in a prone position and making him stay there until he submits to you. Some dogs will not resist much, others will kick, howl and maybe try to bite, which is why a muzzle should be used when doing that. What that does is to establish firmly in the dogs' mind that you are the boss, the master, and if need be, you can physically immobilize the dog. That is an extremely viable control feature. There is many a sixteen year old whom, given the chance, will run the household and/or do whatever they please. Once they know that they can get away with it, many will. But with proper training and elements of authority instilled, there is a distinct restraining feature which reminds them of what line not to cross. There are a lot of similarities between mammals. The nature of the beast, so to speak, is one similarity, and part of that nature is a certain element of fear, a fear or dislike of punishment, as well as a type of reverential fear. The type of fear established/felt depends upon the circumstance.
Training with food is a practice which should not be done, outside of tracking training. If you establish a proper foundation of affection and authority, and stick with the 4 key points, which should be instrumental in any trainer's regimen, your dog will be far more likely to want to obey you, and will do so with a minimal amount of force training. Food is a necessity of life, and should not be given as a reward nor withheld as punishment. Coaxing a dog in any manner, is the same as asking the dog if he would like to do whatever the command is, or ordering the dog to do something, but at his leisure.
The three most important things in training are: establishing the human as master(that is, the dog's handler, not everyone else, definitely not anyone outside the pack, or family); teaching the COME WHEN CALLED; teaching what no means. The groundwork for establishing who the master is was just discussed, but I will go over that in more detail in the next paragraph. Another part of that is ingraining in the dog what NO means. Training and discipline throughout the dog's life is the rest of it. Concerning the come when called, a dog which will go to his master immediately and every time, is a dog which can be pulled out of trouble before it begins. Dogs are curious and sometimes get into situations where they should not be.
The benefits of subduing a dog are not always readily apparent, especially on a mellow dog, but they will appear. You may only need to do it once, or you may need to do it occasionally, depending upon how stubborn your dog is. I have a chocolate lab that would fight the other dogs at the drop of a hat, and I've had to put him on the ground quite a few times, until he learned to refrain from fighting when I said to leave it be. He's pretty good now. It wasn't entirely his fault, being a newcomer amongst several dogs, two of which are possessive of me and rather jealous, but he was the most aggressive and headstrong. He is now also one of the most steady and consistent of my dogs, so it does pay off.
When I do this to a dog, I don't do it to bully him, but to control. I might reassure him some while he's down, once he has quit resisting and just before I let him up, or shortly after. That depends upon the personality of the dog. This domination training makes him easier to train for anything, including and especially guard duty/personal protection, and is synonymous with a dog's thinking, which is similar to the way the fighters in the WWF and the UFC think, while they're in the ring (or other types of competition for that matter, just more so with fighting): Wow, this guy just whipped me, and so now I respect him. I'm even going to shake his hand, not because it's expected, but because we're brothers in combat, we have a bond, and he mastered me. Complete control can be a matter of life or death in some situations, for the dog and/or the master and/or others.
Domination training, as I call it, will not make the dog afraid of or obedient to, other people. It will make him more submissive to you, more willing to obey you, and more apt to protect you if need be. It will also give him more restraint according to his reasoning ability, making it less likely that he will ever bite another person needlessly, or unless commanded to by you. Note that some well trained dogs won't bite an innocent person even if commanded to a lot of the time, if not most of the time, because they do have a faculty which seems to be moral responsibility, though it's something different. They'll bite an innocent acting person, but keep in mind, that most criminals are not hostile. Many are friendly. But at any rate, this is where owner responsibility comes in. No matter how guilty that you know they are, non resistance means a non threat, no matter how much they may deserve it. Just like a gun, it is to be used, not abused. (See item 6 under UNTAUGHT ACTS OF DOGS).
No matter how extensively or non extensively a dog is trained, or what it's intended use is, he should be made to feel like a member of the family, and worked/trained/exercised daily.
To sum it up, I try to pattern dog training after army drill instructors to a degree, as far as being rigid and strict. It seemed at times like they were being mean, but in reality, they just want their recruits to succeed and excel. During the training, that's how to do it. Add to that an understanding of the dog (as the drills understand the human), add some affection and friendship outside of the training sessions, as well as proper care, and you will do well at dog training. You want to start out with just a few repetitions for any new task, and gradually build up to more reps and more intensity, eventually exposing your dog to different environments & situations while you train and/or run your dog thru the tasks that he knows. Consider dog training as teaching each task in a general or basic sort of way, and making a series of corrections as the dog progresses towards proficiency and ultimately, perfection.
It is much like raising a child. The baby needs the most attention and the proper foundation, obviously, and the needs change some as the child ages, on thru the teen years. But even after the child becomes an adult and leaves home, he will need at least some occasional advice & moral support, all the way up to the time the parent dies. Think of it like that.
2. TRAINING REGIMEN DETAILS
BACKYARD DOG TRAINING trains basic obedience on & off leash, practical advanced tasks on & off leash, behavior modification & proper correction methods & technique, fetch & basic tracking, watchdog enhancement/reinforcement tasks (bite work excluded at this time), and multiple dogs at once.
The methods & techniques which I use are geared primarily towards the average, civilian canine owner who keeps and maintains one or more dogs as either a pet only, or as a pet/working dog.
Any of the methods I employ are fine for a dog which is being trained for professional use, bearing in mind that for the utmost performance potential for certain, specialized applications, many trainers recommend that basic fundamentals, pertaining to each specialized skill, be ingrained in the dog while still very young (2-11 months old). But keep in mind, that the line between a dog making the grade for a police dog, and able to make a fine, professional personal protection dog, is a very fine line, at least in many cases. As far as a dog being able to be trained as a non professional use personal protector, there are likely few which can't be.
I know a former canine police officer, whom trained many German Shepherds for his own use and others, and generally trained only basic obedience until each dog was around two years old. He probably instilled some basic bite work in each dog as a puppy, but simply getting the dog to play tug of war with a rag, stick or toy will help do that. Getting the dog to chase a ball helps instill another skill needed for police or personal protection work.
A friend of mine's family dog was put thru a complete course some years ago, including a phase of personal protection, all the way to the dog grabbing an assailant's knife/gun wrist with his mouth, after searching for the assailant in a crowd. And some of those dogs were 5-6 years old, occasionally a few were older yet. You have to realize, that with many of the professional trainers, time is money, and most won't take the time to train older dogs. But it can be done, if a person wants to invest a little bit of time, one to ten minutes per session (initially), one or two sessions a day able to produce impressive results (twice a day or more being the best way).
For some skills, including bite work prep, some trainers recommend starting that as soon as 2 months old. One main difference between training for the average dog, and the professional use dog, is that the professional use dog is trained much more rigorously, and much more thoroughly, mostly due to two main issues: the average person doesn't take the time to work their dog in a 100% thorough manner (many don't have the time due to schedule) and; the average dog doesn't need the skills required for professional applications. Keep in mind, though, that many or most professional skills, can be applied around the home, and definitely in competition, and that the one time you may need the extra skill from your dog and that edge of controllability, can be well worth the time spent.
KEEP IN MIND: NO MATTER WHAT YOU TRAIN YOUR DOG FOR, THE MOST IMPORTANT AREA IS BASIC OBEDIENCE.
Below is a fairly detailed, yet somewhat short, synopsis of the main thesis of my dog training program. I say fairly detailed, and somewhat short (several pages). What is here in the DETAILED MAIN FORMAT is enough for the average dog owner to get a clearer idea and a solid foundation for training their dog, but the reason I say fairly detailed and somewhat short, is because there is always something new to learn. A friend of mine whom teaches karate told me, "even though I'm a fourth degree black belt and take lessons from the higher ranks, I'm always learning something from even the beginners". And to look at dog training in another way: though the human mind must be more complex than any animal's, the human being can talk, and tell a counselor or phsychiatrist what they're thinking, yet the human mind is still not totally figured out. Since the dog cannot talk, there are parts of the dogs' mind (which controls actions), or thought processes, which can only be deciphered by analyzing their actions in accordance with varying situations and conditions, and then only in part, yet good enough to keep them under control. So what this is, is a set of foundational basics and examples, with which to equip you to both better understand and train, your dog.
Although human beings have a higher level of intelligence than dogs (the average mental capacity of a mature, adult dog is equal to a 5 or 6 year old child according to most studies), there are certain similarities when it comes to learning and maintaining top mental and physical conditioning. While it is true that puppies and young dogs are easier and quicker to train than older dogs, the old saying of "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is totally false (both with dogs and humans). Two examples are: one, last year I taught my 8 year old black lab several new tasks, which he picked up on quickly and does well at them, and; two, years ago in Texas, I met a 72 year old woman whom had just received her private pilot's license, having begun training at age 70. Two years is the average time for most people to achieve that.
Older dogs (and people) may not be always able to excel/totally perfect some newly learned tasks, but they can learn and become at least fairly proficient at them. But then again, I've seen some old people whom can outdo much younger ones at many different things. I know a man whose coon dog I found wandering around, after having got seperated from him while hunting, and also shot in the leg. I took the dog to him, and didn't see him for a year. When I did run into him and asked him about his dog, he was still being hunted and outdoing the younger dogs, at 13 years of age.
4. EXPLOITING INSTINCT
There are two main sides to dog training that I have learned. One is taking the time to learn about the basic instincts which drive and motivate a dog. It is these same instincts which cause a dog to do the things which we humans consider misbehavior but which are, in reality, correct behavior to the dog and simply the actions which are a result of what the dog really is. It is like, when one human strikes another, it is natural to strike back, when we have an itch, we scratch it. There are certain things which we humans do not do, at least in public, such as pick our nose, scratch an itch in certain places, etc. And that is only because we have been conditioned to refrain from such things, being told that it is a social no-no. Dogs don't care about things like social etiquette. A dog only does what natural instinct directs it to do, and once trained, it does/refrains from doing, whatever it has been conditioned to do. Boys like to hunt, play ball and chase girls. Girls generally like to cook, play with dolls, and usually prefer to be chased by, rather than to chase, boys. Dogs understand things like that fully, the natural instinct. For example, dogs understand that they should relieve themselves away from where they sleep, but they do not understand why the master gets upset when the $2,000 couch is used by the dog to mark his domain. The dog will quit doing that when he knows that it is an act which displeases the master. He couldn't care less that he just ruined the couch, or caused a need for expenses & labor in order to clean the couch. And again, explaining the situation to the dog will make it as clear to the dog as mud. It is thru conditioning that a dog learns. It is very similar to one of us trying to explain how to do a fairly detailed or involved task to another person, whom has never done something like what we know how to do, and they just can't seem to catch on. If you explain/show the person how to do things in a basic sort of way, let them learn the basics, and then start showing them more advanced things to do, then they will be able to do what you need them to do.
Two questions are: are we going to take away those instincts? Should we try to? The answer to both of these questions is NO. Instead, what we should do is to exploit the natural instinct to our advantage by channeling it into what we consider to be acceptable. Do we try to get the dog to never bite another animal or a human being? No, we teach it to refrain from biting unless the other animal or human is threatening an innocent being or perhaps attempting to damage or steal property or belongings. Ratters and cattle dogs rely on their teeth to do their intended duty, for example. Do we try to keep the dog from running? No, we train the dog to run to where we want it to run, and when, and to stay within certain confines when it is at work or leisure, whether it's boundry is a small yard or a 500 acre farm. Rather than trying to keep the dog from digging holes in the yard to kill moles (which is a duty), get rid of the moles yourself and give the dog exercise by throwing a stick or ball for it to fetch (both of these activities are part of the dog's prey drive instinct, and needs to be fulfilled somehow).
If you browbeat (or try to) a dog into obesience and submission, or strike on a dog for disobedience, you will end up with a suppressed, inhibited bundle of aggression just waiting to snap. Not that a dog doesn't need to be pushed or worked hard, once they have learned something thoroughly, but it's a matter of working them in the right way and correcting them properly, not to mention making sure that they understand what you want them to do.
Two important elements in dog training are voice inflection and what I will call variable situation training. Each and every command should be given with the exact same pronunciation and tone of voice. Those are the two factors of a command that dogs understand more completely than actual words, though they do understand words to a certain degree. Variable situation training means that they need to be conditioned to respond to known commands in various situations and environments. Training a dog around distractions once they have been taught a command is part of that. Another part of that is training in unfamiliar surrounding and by varying the routine. For example, if you train and practice sit, down, and heel to side in the same order every time, your dog may not respond to those commands when given in a different order or singly. You can train a dog to a high degree of perfection at home, and when you give them commands around a bunch of people or strange noises, they probably won't perform well or at all, until conditioned to. That's how a dog is. A dog is as comfortable relieving itself in front of a group of people, as us humans would be uncomfortable doing that. But at the same time, their performance in unfamiliar surroundings is as poor as most humans' composure is nervous, doing a speech in public for the first time. There are some similarities, but some major differences. With a dog, it's not because of being afraid of being laughed at or rejected, as it is with humans. Dogs couldn't care less if anyone besides their master laughs at or rejects them. It's simply a matter of a dog doing what natural instinct directs them to do, until conditioned to do anything besides that. I know some black belts in karate. The moves that they do and teach are very unnatural for the human body to perform. But once well learned, those guys can react and do several lethal moves within a second or two. It's all about conditioning. And here is another clue: three out of my six dogs respond almost instantly to most of what they know, when commanded, in most situations. But when out in the woods, they respond poorly to the basic obedience commands. Why? Because when out in the woods, about all I've commanded them is to come when called. I take them out in the woods to blow off energy and just have fun. To my knowledge, most show dogs are not used as working dogs, and vice versa. The one is conditioned for one thing, and the other is conditioned for another arena. It's something like a man whom is groomed all his life for a career as a political diplomat, compared to a man whom is prepped to be a career soldier. On a battlefield, the diplomat would likely not do well at all. At a high society ball, the soldier would likely be regarded as somewhat of a ruffian. Either man could do either career, if properly prepped and trained, but we do what we know how to do. So it is with dogs. All of this brings us to the other side of dog training.
5. OBLIGATIONS OF OWNER/TRAINER/HANDLER
The other side of dog training, care and handling, is us. By learning what drives, or motivates, a dog, thus enabling ourselves to properly train a dog, we have made it to the other side of dog training. So to sum it up, by learning what a dog is about, that automatically enables us to better and more properly train our dogs, as well as more thoroughly. The catch 22 is, no matter how much we read, which is good, we can only arrive at the other side of dog training by entering the door to the first side of dog training, or in other words, actually doing it. Read up on the basics of dog care, training and handling, and then jump right in. In my somewhat less than illustrious military career, I went to helicopter repair school after basic training for three months, and learned how to work on Cobras & Hueys. When I got to permanent post, I was ready to tear one apart and rebuild it. But to my surprise, the platoon leaders informed me that my real training on helicopter repair was about to begin. Thus it is with just about anything. Learn the basics, dive in, and begin to learn, keeping your mind open to learning about and analyzing dogs' behavior and antics. Within each breed of dog there are certain, inherited traits and characteristics. There are also individual and diverse personalities. A friend of mine had a Doberman Pinscher, when we were kids, whom would just as soon bite anyone outside the family as look at them, though he was well under their control. Jon could send ole Sam charging at you from 50 yards away, and when Sam the Dobe was 5 yards from you, yell at him, and he'd just come to a dead stop. I petted that dog twice in about 10 years time: once for about 1 second, when Jon urged me to, and restrained Sam with a word, and; when I came home from basic training. It was as though Sam respected me then. My Doberman Mack, on the other hand, will walk up to anyone whom is friendly, and though somewhat wary, nudge for a petting. As I'm talking to that person though, if I say something that person doesn't like and they get tense or inwardly hostile, Mack picks up on it, takes a step back, and just watches. If a stranger approaches, Mack will run over and challenge them. As long as they stand still, all is well. The difference may be in each of the dogs' personality, but much of it is in their upbringing. Mack was raised right, though probably spoiled a bit, whereas we don't know how Sam was raised and maintained, because he was dumped off at Jon's one winter, well into adulthood.
When and if you ever take your dog to a training class, the instructor is not really training your dog for you, rather he is teaching you how to train your dog. Suppose you buy a fully trained dog which performs and behaves perfectly for the trainer. Good! But that is no guarantee that he will do the same for you. There are many factors, but the main factor is you. If you are the type of person whom would rather coax a dog than order a dog, you may have a problem, the severity of the problem dependent upon what breed of dog it is. Some are more pushy and headstrong than others. You need to be like a teacher whenever you are training and giving your dog anything to do. Most of our teachers were a figure of authority while in school, especially during class. But when we'd see them outside of school, especially once we were graduated, they were/are more like an older friend. That's how we need to be. Authoritative and rigid(while still understanding and flexible when need be) while training or giving an order, a best buddy otherwise.
A successful cattle drover is certainly not stronger than even a single cow, no matter how big and strong he may be (I use he, because it's rather exhaustive to constantly say he or she, and I don't care to be "politically correct" anyway, but just for the record, I've known a few farm girls whom were as strong as any man). He has simply learned how to effectively guide cattle thru means other than strictly brute force. Instead of exclusively forcing a dog to do what we want it to do, we want to learn how to cause the dog to want to do what we want it to do. That is accomplished thru a foundation and working system of proper care, affection, discipline and the four key focal points of PROPER METHOD, CONSISTENCY, REPETITION and TIME, which will be explained shortly.
My Dad used to own a big, black Angus bull which he used to breed the other cattle. Dad could control him just fine, but he got to pushing my Mother around when she'd go out to feed them, especially when she wore her bright red sweatshirt, which she was determined to wear, probably just to show that bull who the bosses were. He got to be a bit too aggressive towards her, so Dad was out there one day hiding and watching, when Mom went to feed, because the bull wouldn't push on Mom when Dad was near. He pushed on her, and as soon as the bull seen Dad walking over, he stopped, because Dad had already set him straight a few times before. Some of it was via human strength, but it was mostly thru other means. A small man can whip a much stronger and bigger man thru the use of martial arts, which, amongst other things, uses pressure points on the human body in order to subdue and hold, or maim and kill if necessary, and animals are no different, only stronger. You can use a club with which to subdue a man or animal, or you can use the mind and minimal force, and subdue the man or animal without seriously or permanently harming them.
6. DISCERNING BEHAVIOR
Just as important as proper correction methods, is knowing when not to correct. For example, let's say you're working with a dog which fully knows a few tasks, and you give a command. But instead of obeying, or just as he goes to obey, he runs to the corner of the house and stares down the street, perhaps barks/growls. As you walk to him, you see someone walking up the street. Are you going to scold a dog for doing what his protective instinct has him to do? In my opinion, you should praise the dog, assure him that it's ok(if everything is) and then continue with what you were just doing. Quenching a dog's natural characteristics can create an inhibited, neurotic, rebellious, unpredictable animal. Once the dog has learned that it's ok to bark at strangers and be protective, you can be more rigid during training in that area. Last summer one day, I had been working Mack, my Doberman, for around 40 minutes, especially on going around a building on command, which he was slow at. He did that 9 or 10 times in a row pretty good. The last time, after doing it, instead of running to me and sitting, he ran right past me, within a couple feet, with a look on his face as it to say, bet you can't catch me, and ran right to the door of my house, where he stays, waiting for me with a mischievous, goofy grin on his face. I started to scold, but at the last moment just started laughing. That incident taught me 3 main object lessons: I couldn't scold him, he had obeyed(just some fine tuning needed); dogs ain't robots, give 'em a break, and; it was nearly time for me to leave to go to an evening class I was attending. Dogs have no equals when it comes to sixth sense discernment. There are certain fundamentals/methods which do not change, but we do need to be flexible in certain situations, and think before we speak, so to speak. The amount of flexibility & leniency depends a lot on what you are going to use your dog for. If you are going to do the preliminary and basic obedience yourself, and have another trainer on advanced work, such as for personal protection, competition, search & rescue, etc., get with that person before you even start, preferably, so that you can both be on the same sheet of music throughout the whole program. If you get certain skills ingrained in the dog right off the bat, especially with a young dog, the advanced training will be easier. The basic obedience methods I use are fine for any application, but specialty training prerequisites needs to be done at various stages, some when initially training and preferably when young. It's like building a house. You can always reconfigure the house a ways down the road, using the same, basic foundation, but it's a lot easier & less hassle just to do the whole thing the way you want it the first time. To sum up the point of this section though, which is discerning/analyzing behavior, sometimes, you need to be like the parents whom teach their kids not to fight but, whom also, sit back and gather the whole picture when, their kid cleaned the clock of some bully kid who was beating up on smaller kids.
7. FOUNDATION & 4 KEY FOCAL POINTS
First and foremost, show your dog affection, while he's becoming adjusted to his new home, and being away from his old home and partners. Dogs love to be petted by their masters. Talk to your dog and play/romp with him. Get your dog to love you and he'll do anything for you. Get him to respect you and he'll do anything for you every time you command him to, immediately, instantly if you work him that way. By teaching manners right off the bat (no jumping up, no chewing furniture, relieve outside, etc.) you can gain some respect from your dog, which makes it easier to train him. Respect is built a little at a time. Confidence in you by the dog is instilled later yet.
Once a foundation of affection is laid, you can use that to your advantage once you start training. Once a dog has learned a command well enough to know what the command means, you begin to with hold petting until he has obeyed your command. That tactic works really well for stubborn, rebellious dogs, or if you have spoiled a dog with too much affection.
Proper care pretty much speaks for itself. Find a good vet and keep your dog in good health. Read and learn about dogs. Different breeds have different needs, both in the training process and in the area of care. That's one reason why it's important to find out about the breed of dog that you would like to obtain, before you actually get a dog, so that you don't run into any surprises which could cost you more money or time than you can spare.
Discipline covers the overall picture. Training and manners obviously involves discipline, but so does care. You must discipline your dog to stand still for brushing, exams, shots, dental checks/care and to behave while you're gone.
Now here is a more detailed explanation of the 4 key focal points:
PROPER METHOD-simply means showing the dog the right way to do each task, and immediately AFTER being given the command, as well as using the correct (and same) tone of voice and pronunciation per command.
CONSISTENCY-not only means to do each task the same way each and every time, but again, to use the same tone of voice and pronunciation of each different command each and every time. Not all of us are able to exercise our voice over a wide range of the octave scale, but most of us can vary our voice enough to do the job. Part of that is emphasizing certain letters within the word of a command, using a more or less gutteral verbal sound, saying a word more or less quickly, and /or using certain body movements, at least when initially training a new task, then graduating on to simply hand command if so desired. Dogs do understand the word itself, to a certain degree, but they understand the tone much more clearly. If we're mad, or happy, or what have you, the dog does not understand the words we may be saying nearly as well as they understand our mood or mode of spirit that we're in.
REPETITION-simply means doing something over and over again until learned and perfected. Teaching a dog a new task takes but little time and few repetitions (30-50), but proficiency takes more, and perfection takes many more. The number of repetitions required is largest at the bottom of the scale. As the dog progresses towards perfection, the number of repetitions (and corrections/adjustments) becomes less and less. Once well learnt, it really only takes some occasional brushing up in order to maintain performance, for all practical purposes.
There is no shortcut or magic formula. Like us humans, doing a task over & over is how a dog learns & perfects. A puppy or young dog is usually the easiest and quickest to train and perfect, but with proper foundations, patience and persistence, any dog, regardless of age or temperament, can be trained, sometimes within certain limits.
TIME- it takes some time to achieve total obedience, but not as much as one might think, depending upon the dog. It's dependent upon both trainer and dog. Some dogs learn more quickly than others, but at the same time, sometimes a slow learner will become more steady, stable and dependable. Every dog, within any given breed, has it's own personality. Although the military, during WW II, had some of their battle field dogs ready for service in 14 weeks, they were very selective of each dog.
Start out slow and gradually build the number of repetitions per session. The best scenario is 2-3 sessions per day, 1-15 minutes per session, just a few minutes per session with a puppy, a young dog, or teaching something new to even an older dog. That is better than training all at one time. Dogs do get burned out if pushed too hard all at once or for too long of a period even after proficient in any given task. This is another reason to find out about your breed of dog. Some breeds excel for a few years, and then just kind of decline and level out. Sort of like some of the sports stars we all knew in high school or college, whom were gung ho during school, but after graduating and getting on with life, some just quit working out and ended up in poor or average condition, because for some reason or another, they lost their desire to maintain top physical conditioning, and of course some became subject to the time factor.
8. CONTROLLABLE & UNCONTROLLABLE VARIANTS
For a professional use/competition dog, constant practice is obviously more needful, in order to keep the dog at it's maximum performance level, but with any dog, some controllable variants are needed in order to achieve to the maximum performance potential. Dogs are more of a creature of habit than people, in some ways. For example, if you give the same set of commands to the dog in the same order every time, the dog's performance will likely be less keen when given in a different order. Vary the routine; do tasks in a different order and in different settings once learned well; do the routine quicker one day & slower the next; take a session where you and the dog(s) just go out in the field, woods or some open space and just blow off energy, giving the dog a command every now and then. Prevent burnout! Let the dog experience new things. Once a dog learns a task, he needs to have it reinforced in a setting where there are things distracting him anyway, before you start reprimanding him for not complying with a command.
Another important factor to remember is, that even though certain characteristics, abilities, traits, skills and potential are inherent in each breed of dog, discretion must still be used. For example, Doberman Pinschers are capable of clearing (jumping over) 17 feet and scaling (climbing over) 20, according to one source, and German Shepherds are capable of clearing 15 and scaling 18. But that does not mean that every Dobe and Shepherd is capable of doing those things, or at least willing to go that far up the performance ladder, within an acceptable time frame. When training for professional use, the time factor must usually be considered, and force training will only go so far. In those cases, it is likely more economical to use a different dog for that application.
My own Doberman is not fond of jumping over obstacles simply for the sake of obtaining praise, even as low as 3-4 feet. Yet he jumps 3-4 feet without hesitation, into the back of my empty pickup truck, or jumps/scales 6-7 feet into it when it's loaded with wood. Why? Because the dogs' reasoning ability allows him to perceive that jumping into the truck means that he gets to go somewhere, and it seems that many or most dogs get a thrill or pleasure out of riding in a vehicle, as well as enjoying going places, especially with the master.
Some dogs perform well simply for the sake of obtaining praise and acceptance from their master, while others need to have a more clearly defined purpose. Something like the contrast between the person whom does a task for the boss whether it makes sense or not, for the sake of compliance, compared to the person whom needs to have a reason for doing a task differently, or to do a task which makes no sense.
There are different types of corrections. There is correcting a dog for bad behavior, such as jumping on people, getting into the garbage and chewing on furniture, which requires mostly just a reprimand of one sort or another. Another type of correction involves any given task, when it is not being done right, which would better be called an adjustment. For example, the dog is sitting when told to, but not in the right spot or not quickly enough. Instead of scolding the dog, you should simply not praise him much, just a little, then give the command again, making sure that he does it correctly, and then praise him well. A dog should never be scolded for a task which he does poorly, but just corrected (adjusted). If you scold a dog for a poorly done task, he will likely think that he's being scolded for doing the task, and may balk, or even refuse, when you give him that command again, because you just conditioned him to not do the task. The right thing to do is to withhold praise for a poorly done task, have him do that task again, and once he does it better, even if just a little better, praise him. Occasionally, like us, a dog just has a day where he has his "head up his rectum". In that case, at the end of that session, have him do a task he always does well for the last one, and praise him. Another option is to give him that command for the task he was just having problems with, manually walk him thru it, and praise him. You always want to have praised your dog at the end of each session. And if you're having to scold/correct/adjust too much, reevaluate the whole situation, because something is wrong. The problem could be with a method or technique that you're using, or perhaps the dog has a medical condition/ailment which you are unaware of. If it's an advanced task, maybe the dog is unable to understand. Maybe the dog had a bad experience when performing that task with a previous owner, due to either that owner or just some outside disturbance (car backfiring, for example). STUDY IT OUT!
It is very important to learn to read dogs, especially your own, but that doesn't happen overnight, although sometimes, as in my case, things start clicking all at once. When I first got my Doberman, him and my Black Lab of 9 years did not do well at all. I have had to pull them apart more than once, even though I had introduced them to each other slowly and gradually. Out in the field, I've only had one instance of any of my six male dogs fighting. The problem was at home, and I initially placed the blame on the Doberman, when he and Whopper started in. I would be in the living room with the both of them, and Mack would start growling at Whopper, so I would reprimand him. Well, one day they started in, and I walked over to Mack, ready to grab him by the collar, as he had stopped growling when I spoke. Whopper was in the adjoining room, just around the doorway, and didn't see me. I just barely heard a very low growl from Whopper. What the problem was is, Whopper was jealous, would start the growling match, and Mack would respond. I believe that most Dobermans, if not all of them, to varying degrees, consider themselves to be king of the hill, more than most dogs. They fully believe in "death before dishonor". So it pays to: meditate and observe before doing anything hasty, and; learn all you can about your breed(s) of dog(s).
A dog which is raised with plenty of affection but none or little discipline and correction will likely result in a headstrong, pushy, have it my way animal. On the other hand, violent, brute force, fear-based correction can turn the dog into either an introverted, neurotic pack of dynamite just waiting to explode, or an animal who will do your every bidding because he's afraid not to, and doesn't have much of a will anyway. You can train your dog to the point of instant and consistent obedience while still maintaining an uninhibited dog. Just put forth some effort into learning the right ways of training, correction and discipline, and you will be pleased with the results. It takes a lot of patience with some dogs.
10. PURPOSE & ABILITY
Note that even the most easily trained and well behaved dog is not so solely to please their master, there is more to it than that. Dogs need to have a purpose, and in order to fulfil that purpose, they need to find where they fit in with the rest of the pack, whether the rest of the pack is just human, or both human and canine (or other animal). Fitting in is a part of fulfilling each dog's purpose. For example, when a coyote pack needs to raise their pack number, a scout will go lure a female, domesticated dog out into the domain of the coyotes, so that the pack's males can breed her. In the realm of the wild Dingo of Australia, when on the hunt, there are dogs which locate the prey. There are others which separate the target prey from the rest of the herd, and a few others may join in to run the prey until it is exhausted. Once the prey is killed, the dogs eat, and if there are young Dingos which cannot yet hunt, the adults go back to camp, puke up what they've eaten, and let the young eat first. They all fit in to their respective places, and the domesticated dog needs to as well.
Fitting in to the right place is especially important if you have more than one dog. It is largely a social order, but also has a practical purpose, as described above, just like in a place of work; there is a supervisor, a work crew, a maintenance crew, etc. It is like that in a wolf or dog pack, just not as clearly defined, at least not to the human. The dog is of a lower rank than the rest of the humans in that family, though there should be just one trainer per dog. At the same time, every human in the household old enough to be able to properly handle a dog, should be able to keep the dog under control.
All dogs have certain, basic abilities, as already discussed, but a dog does not naturally know to do anything on command, at all. I believe that this is a common misconception which a lot of people have. They must be conditioned to do any given task upon command. There is nothing that we can teach a dog to do which it cannot already naturally do, but again, we have to teach it to do any given task upon command. Retrievers will naturally retrieve, but that does not mean that they will bring the object back to you. They must be taught to wait until commanded to retrieve, to retrieve what we want them to retrieve, to hold the object in their mouth until commanded to give, etc. A guard type dog will usually be naturally protective of their family and the property, but not everyone from outside the family is a threat. The dog must be taught when to protect and when to refrain, what part of the body to bite, and to subdue and hold, rather than tear the assailant or intruder to pieces. These are some more reasons why it's important to get the breed of dog which is suited for your purpose. There are certain characteristics in certain dogs which make them undesirable for certain purpose. For another example, a Norwegian Elkhound would probably be a poor choice for an apartment, unless you planned on jogging him quite frequently, because they are possessed of an inherent trait to roam for quite a distance, being bred to hunt elk. Then again, one of those might be better suited for a very active apartment dweller than on a small farm with close neighbors. Find out all you can about your breed of dog, make any necessary training/activity adjustments, and both you and the dog will be much happier and better off. I will add, however, that if you can't or don't use your dog for it's original, intended purpose, you can always find a substitute purpose for him. For example, if you have a coon hound but don't hunt, train him to track an object that you've dragged around the yard, locate & retrieve it, and bring it back to you. The Shitzu is a dog which will bark or growl, if it notices something different in the house or yard, such as a piece of furniture in a different spot, the curtains closed when normally shut, etc. You could turn one of those into a very detail oriented watch dog, or use that trait to play games with the dog. There are many,many different options.
I've seen a lot of people whom try to coax their dog into doing what commanded. That is entirely wrong. Although I've stressed causing your dog to want to do what you tell him to do, that is thru the basic set of foundations, one of which is physically putting your dog thru the motions, until he has connected a command with an action. Another one is consistency. Telling your dog to do something 5 or 6 times, or more, is very inconsistent. Walking your dog thru tasks is even more important for a dog than it is for a human being that you are trying to teach, because dogs cannot understand explanations. It's good to talk to your dog when you are just doing things around the house or yard, because it's as soothing to them as playing a radio. I know dairy farmers whose cows give more milk if they are listening to the radio. It's because it soothes them, relaxes them. But as far as training goes, we need to shoot for one command only, and then execution of task. People will argue this point, but what will a coaxer do, when their Pit Bull or Rottweiler, or a small dog for that matter, decides to latch on to a non threatening, stranger's leg, arm or other body part, when they just went to the door to ask directions or whatever? Can you imagine the owner coaxing, Fido, please let go of the nice man, over and over again? By the time the dog, which likely is too strong to pry off of the guy when mad, lets go, the guy could be seperated from his arm, or have a severed artery. It can and does happen. If you don't have total control over the dog in basic obedience, you sure won't have any when the dog is in an attack and/or fighting mode. COAXING IS WRONG!
Let's liken it to a paratrooper in training in the army. I know enough of them who have been shoved out the door. When each soldier gets to the door, there can be none, and is no hesitation. If anyone balks, the instructor or commander is not going to talk the guy into jumping out the doorway. The guy is going out immediately. If the guy balks, and starts to become afraid, he might put a death grip on the doorpost or the person nearest him. It's the same way with a dog. When they get into a certain frame of mind, they're going to do exactly as natural instinct directs, unless the boss has total control over him. And just like during a military mission, in a tense, precarious situation, one moment of hesitation or uncertainty can mean disaster, for all.
I know a guy whom trains Rottweilers, in everything from basic obedience to all out guard and personal protection work. He told me once, "I can train any dog to attack. The hard part is getting them to refrain or come off right when you tell them to". His would do both. When you went to his house, those dogs were slobbering all over each other to get your attention. But when he said a certain word he used, or made a certain hand motion/signal, you would stay right where you were at until he told the dogs to back down and be playful again. He had them so well trained that it was like turning a light switch on and off. Do you know how he got them trained that good? It all started with basic obedience. If your dogs don't do all of the basic obedience right when commanded, then they are not ready for protection work or any other advanced training. Keep in mind, though, that complete obedience and perfection are two different things.
When I was in high school, the guys I ran with and myself, were some of the rowdiest around. We would rather have been back on the farm working than in school, and getting kicked out for a day or two was a vacation, at least with some of us. BUT, there were certain lines which we did not cross, because we were raised to know better, and we also had previously had a taste of corporal punishment. Light corporal punishment, paddling, for example, is an omen of worse to come if you go too far. Graduate from high school, get out into the real world, cross that one line, and you're going to jail for life or you're going to lose your life. My high school career was still in the day (only a short 25 years ago) when, if you got too far out of line, the principal or some teacher could and would grab you and let you know who really tied it. The respect was there. You got to have respect from your dog. Our high school principal ENFORCED the rules! He was also a friend to the students and faculty, well loved and respected. When the school board decided to fire him (for a dating a teacher issue, supposedly), the whole school protested. We need to have that kind of respect from our dogs.
Nowadays, there is little corporal punishment in schools, and the jails are full. Go figure. It's the exact opposite of the paragraph above. Society is confused. There is mushy love, and there is tough love. There are too many bleeding heart liberals, whom apparently believe that mushy love will win the world. They probably assert that, as the armed robber is killing them during a break-in. That armed robber is selfish and has no regard for others' lives, domains or property, because way back when, no one ever called him down, which taught him that the bully dog wins. The nature of the beast is pretty much the same from one mammal to another. Counseling is definitely a good thing also, but whether dog or human, if there isn't some reverential fear instilled at one time or another, there will be a problem. And you cannot verbally counsel a dog.
There is a lot to be said on the subject of aggression. The problems stemming from uncontrolled or misdirected aggression can be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated, simply by practicing solid foundations of discipline, training, correcting and handling. The last I knew, there are 5 dogs on the top of the list entitled "Reasons to Raise Homeowners Insurance". Those dogs are German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chow, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. There should be no reason for that at all, and it is really just hype, resulting from a few much publicized occurrences, the incidents originating from a lack of discipline and real control over the dog. The blame for insurance rates needs to be placed on frivolous cases, where someone gets sued, and the award is far more than the actual damages (such as the woman whom received $1million over a cup of spilt coffee). Myself, and most people I know of my age group, were raised to be accountable for our actions. Our parents told us things like, if you boys tease that dog and get bit, it's your own fault. Nowadays, when something happens, the people involved start calling their lawyer before the bleeding even stops. From what I know, many, if not most, problems from aggressive dogs are as much the victim's fault as anyone else's, due to things like ignorance of a dog's nature, invading their domain, purposely agitating the dog, etc. But the bottom line is, the owners/trainers are responsible for the behavior of their animals in most cases.
There are ways to erase the problem of misdirected aggression in dogs. One is for owners/trainers to instill discipline in their dogs, instead of listening to people whom believe that discipline is not part of love, care & concern. If you love your dog, you will discipline him. About 8 years ago, while training my older Black Lab, someone whom thought that I was training too rigidly showed me a few positive reinforcement only methods, which I tried. It didn't take long to figure out that someone probably wanted a dog which they could control, in order to be able to easily rob my place. I discarded that methodology real quick, once my dog started to develop an attitude. Positive reinforcement ONLY methods are something like the illusion of taking everyone's guns away in order to have a safer society. Just as an armed populace makes criminals (whom can always get guns) think twice about armed robbery, a disciplined dog trainer makes the dog think twice, act once, and obey. On a milder scale, fear of temporary pain caused by a paddle causes most school children to behave. Dogs are the same way, except rather than striking a dog, a scolding, a withholding of praise/affection, a prodding about the scruff of the neck, or occasionally a good shaking by the scruff is punishment to a dog.
Another way for misdirected dog aggression to become minimal, is for people to learn a few basic rules about dog safety, which the schools should teach, seeing as how there are more households which have a dog than there are those which don't. The chances of a child being abducted are probably less than a child being bitten by a dog, yet they teach children things like, don't open a door to a stranger, things like that. A child (or an adult) being bitten by a dog are as much a strain on the human whom owns the dog, as it is on the child which is bitten and their family. I've been on the owner side of that, and it isn't pleasant. The dog was a bit overprotective, the girl was at the wrong house delivering cookies, some kids had previously been throwing things at the dog off and on, and the cops laughed, at the time when I made a report about the dog being harassed. Luckily it wasn't a life threatening deal. I paid the girl's medical bills, the scars healed, and I still talk to those people occasionally. But it helps to be informed. We are taught what to do in the event of a tornado, earthquake, lightning storm, robbery, etc. People should be informed about dogs, what to do and what not to do, during an aggressive dog situation. Now I am going to present a discussion on dog aggression, coming from a different angle than what is probably the norm, right after a few examples which coincide with the discussion.
Some trainers try to eliminate the tendency of a dog to be aggressive, which is not only wrong, but impossible. There is a difference between a dog being aggressive, and having a tendency to be aggressive. The very root nature of a dog is a tendency to be aggressive. The only way to eliminate that tendency is to kill the dog, just as the only way to completely eliminate the possibility of a human being doing something wrong is to kill the human being. Both are absurd. We have to liken this issue to a case between a cop and a criminal. The criminal will use violence in order to have his way. The cop will use force, in order to stop the criminal. The techniques that both the cop and criminal use may be almost the same, certainly basically the same. You could say that violence is simply force being abused. It obviously isn't feasible to lobotomize every newborn baby, so we have to find that middle ground.
If you were to beat a dog into submission for biting someone unjustifiably, you will accomplish one of two things: either you will have a dog which has about as much spirit as a stuffed animal, or; you will have a breathing, walking, four legged bundle of dynamite just waiting to explode. And if he does it again, it's liable to be the handler whom gets bitten.
It is true that getting a dog down on the ground and holding him there (but not hitting) against his will involves a certain element of fear, but it is more of a reverential fear. And if a dog shows aggression to someone whom is not a potential threat, the dog should be immediately put down on the ground, after a sharp, cross retort, and held there until he submits to you. Dominating a dog will not make him afraid to go after a real assailant, that is an entirely different matter. That will make it easier for you to do two things: one, it will be easier to train him for anything and; two, it will make him submissive to you, so that whether you train him for protection or not, when you say no, he'll know that it means no. And putting a dog down to dominate him instills more than just reverential fear. In conjunction with proper training, discipline, correction, proper care and affection, your dog will not only learn to love, trust and respect you, he will also learn to have confidence in your judgement, and be content with you being the boss, or master.
Let me give you a few examples in order to better illustrate what I mean before moving on. With "rough" people, there are two basic types, the untrained street thug, and the trained martial artist. The street thug generally has no moral guidance, thus no real restraining influence over him, and he will use whatever means are available, in order to get what he wants. The martial artist, on the other hand, is not only taught how to subdue, maim and kill, he is also taught not to use his skill unless he absolutely has to, and then only whatever force is necessary. His instructor has likely already shown the student what he, the instructor, can do to him, so if the student abuses his skill, he will likely have to square off with the instructor, get his clock cleaned, and maybe also answer to the long arm of the law. There are two distinct differences here (of course there are exceptions to both of these examples, but generally this is so). Another example is with a dog of mine, a Husky. He was an excellent watch/guard dog, I never had to worry about break-ins, and he wouldn't even let the landlord in, mostly because he seldom came over, so to the dog, he was not only a stranger, but a potential threat. There are several examples with him, all of which can teach you some things, as they have me. I came home one day after work, and was surprised to find the fuel bill stuck in the door. I asked the fuel man about that later, "Has that Husky ever bit you?" He just looked at me with a hidden smile and replied, "He's still living, isn't he?" You see, that fuel man, had he ever got bitten unjustifiably, would have shot that dog, and didn't really fear much, anyway. The dog sensed that, and respected him, likely also sensing that this man was not one to abuse animals or be too stern with any, but rather just what is meet. At the same time, had that guy tried to break in or anything, the Husky would have torn into him (dogs can discern between someone whom is violent and someone whom can, and will, use force, IF necessary). One of my buddies I hung out with a lot back then, got along well with the dog, and the dog was actually more playful with him than he ever was with me, having been around him numerous times. But one night my buddy stopped over, and the dog wouldn't let him up to the door to knock, growling and baring his teeth. I finally heard the dog, called him down, and let my buddy in. He wasn't uptight, mad, hostile, anything out of the ordinary. I forgot about it and we just sat around and talked, listened to music, etc. He left after several hours and I thought no more about it until the next morning. Something was missing from the house. It was only a $2 butter dish, but my buddy had lifted it, which I later verified. The dog, having the acute, sixth sense which dogs possess, knew that something was wrong as soon as he pulled into the driveway. It is for this very reason, amongst others, that I put in the article of OBLIGATIONS OF OWNER/TRAINER/HANDLER. It is very important and vital to think before we speak or act, something I have learned the hard way, and am still learning. Another time, that dog broke his chain and chased a neighbor girl to her house, which was 2 blocks away, without even trying to bite her, which he could easily have done. I knew something was wrong with that picture, and started talking to neighbors about it. That's when I found out that she, and a few others, had been throwing rocks and sticks at the dog, and had been teasing him and other dogs in the neighborhood. I made a police report and was laughed at by the cops, whom apparently thought that it was funny that my dog had been having things throwed at him. They didn't think it was funny when a different girl got bit a few months later, which I stated above. (To the responding cop's credit, he was understanding and, due to the circumstances, allowed me to quarantine the dog at my place, which is required whenever a dog bite occurs). Another example which happened before that girl got bitten helped me stay out of trouble when that did occur. Shortly after I left for work one day, the Husky slipped his collar and was walking around a neighbor's yard, whereupon the neighbor hollared at him, and he went back to my yard and stayed there all morning. During that morning, two young men from a church were out walking, distributing booklets. Once they reached my property, on the sidewalk, the dog went out and challenged them. They showed no fear nor aggression, and walked out & around him. The dog stayed put and there was no problem. I was very strict with that dog, which was 2 years old when I got him. He had been raised in an all female house, so he distrusted men to begin with, due to his upbringing. Not only that, but he was never corrected much or at all by the owners, was spoiled rotten, allowed to harass the meter reader, post man and just about anyone he pleased, jumping the fence to go out and run wild. Plus, he was reportedly beaten by some cops because of his abberrant behavior, whom finally told the woman whom owned him, that either he found a new home, or he'd be shot. He went to her sister and her husband for awhile, and they just had no time to work with him, so he found his way to me. This was a dog which had the worst of both worlds, the utmost of positive reinforcement and nearly the utmost of force "training". It took me a while, but I finally got him to stay home, execute tasks on command, and refrain from going after people at one word from myself. That dog was an education to me, and very nearly a wringing out to dry. You can bring at least some of them back to acceptable behavior, but there are limits, and it does take time. In the following content, I think that you will see some light shed on this issue. It isn't the dog or the type of dog, rather it is the upbringing and training. It goes along the lines of something else that I firmly believe, which is the old saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". The people whom lobby and legislate to try to ban certain breeds of dogs are, in my opinion, the equivalent of those whom got guns banned from the common people around the time of World War 2, in Germany. They either thought they were right, or wanted people to think that they thought they were right, but there was a sinister, underlying agenda, which robbed the people of a means of self defense. As an example, I'm not a big fan of Pit Bulls, but I've seen quite a few which were just as nice as any other dog, and I know of dogs which a lot of people love, and consider to be very docile, but which could likely rip a Pit Bull to shreds, because of certain, physical attributes. It's a very bad situation when people get mauled or killed by dogs, especially when they've done no wrong, but it's all in the upbringing, at least much of the time. And it's wrong to condemn a breed, because of a handful of dogs which were likely mishandled to begin with, or abused by someone. The world could condemn nuclear power, because of the destructive power of the bomb, but nuclear power rightly used provides good things, such as electricity and heat. It is not the object which is evil, but rather the misuse of an object.
NOTE: The section, Aggression Defined, is merely a means of helping people to better understand the nature of the dog, which I am finally starting to really understand. I am a firm believer in self defense, but even if you are a complete pacifist, a better understanding of the dogs' aggressive drives can help in all facets of training, even for a dog which will never be used in any type of guard or watch capacity. This next section does not discuss different drives, but merely looks at aggression and what it really is, or can be, and what it should not be. It boils down to correctly channeling, applying and using the drives which are naturally there which, if non-existent, means that the animal is either a stuffed toy, or dead. The folks whom train professional guard dogs know all about the different drives in depth, and are the experts in that area. Backyard Dog Training urges knowledge of applicable laws pertaining to the stopping, pursuing and apprehension of intruders, robbers, assailants, etc., and urges the practice of moral restraint alongside the use of any necessary force. Backyard Dog Training is responsible for the actions of Backyard Dog Training only.
13. AGGRESSION DEFINED
To better and more fully explain what I mean in the preceding section, let's see what aggression defined really is. According to Webster's Dictionary, aggression means, primarily, "a first or unprovoked attack", which would be lunging(and making contact)/biting. This we do not want against an innocent person, or against a guilty person whom is not being hostile. I don't yet know what every stipulation of Indiana Law is on this, but with a human against a human, I believe that threats do not warrant a reason for going on the offensive. If the other person is hostile and touches you first in order to harm you, then we are allowed to retaliate with our hands or feet, if the other person is also unarmed. There are different stipulations for varying circumstances, and a lawyer is best qualified to expound on these issues. Another definition is "an act of hostility", which could be growling or pacing in a circle around the other party. Obviously, if it is on the property on which the dog belongs, it would be wise for the stranger to leave. Pacing in a circle is an indication that the dog may be getting ready to attack, while a growl is more of a warning. Remember that even a guilty culprit whom is not resisting should not be bitten. A well trained protection dog will not bite/attack if the culprit is just standing there, unarmed. Guilty people have won lawsuits against the cops because the dog went too far. Aggression also means "the practice of attack or encroachment". Against a person whom is trying to do violent things to another, we obviously want a dog to protect us if need be. Against a person whom is trying to steal or damage property or goods, we want encroachment, but not necessarily attack, and never overkill. So there is both good, and bad, aggression. (NOTE: I am speaking mostly from an individual's viewpoint, and do not claim to know details of the law on this issue, though we obviously have a right to protect our lives, well being and property, but I am simply trying to give people some insight on this issue, as it pertains to the overall training picture.
Aggression is a noun, and the end result of an adjective, "aggressive". The word aggressive has various meanings. The main meaning of aggressive runs parallel with aggression; "tending to, or characterized by, aggression; as, an aggressive war". This quality needs to be present in any type of guard/protection dog, but only upon command by a responsible handler or in response to acts of aggression by an assailant, intruder or burglar. I will never back down from the view that we have a God given right to self defense, whether it be by dog, gun or other means, no matter how hard the few bleeding heart liberals push to protect the criminal. You first subdue the criminal, and then you try to help them thru more passive means.
Further defined, aggressive means "self-assertive", meaning "self confident and bold in action and in expression", which is needful in all dogs, no matter what their duty is. Aggressive "implies the disposition to dominate, sometimes by indifference to others' rights", which is needful, obviously, while thwarting, subduing or apprehending a criminal. Once a person starts committing a crime, the only rights they have are silence, a lawyer and that no more force be used against them than necessary. Hence the necessity of a properly trained police dog/personal protection dog, handled by a responsible police officer/owner. And that brings up something interesting: I heard a while back that in some states, the way the law reads, someone could tell you in a non-hostile way, that they were going to walk into your house unarmed, while the door was unlocked, take things, and that if they were unarmed and showed no aggression, hostility or threat, that you couldn't touch them (or something to that effect). I am in the process of researching that, but to that I have two answers: one, personally, I'd tell them to leave once and citizen's arrest them for trespassing if I was able to, and; two, I like the description of what is labeled "The Original Guard Dog", I believe an old English Mastiff, which would let a stranger walk onto the property and all around, and go into the house and walk all around. But once the intruder either started to touch something or leave, the dog would hold the person, after putting them onto the floor or ground if necessary, until the master or police arrived, using only whatever force was necessary. I won't tell anyone else what to do, and I'm not sure about that law, but back about 9 years ago, a guy said something to me to that effect, meaning my own place, so when I went to town, I just put the Husky inside, left the door unlocked, and left. I'm pretty sure that they were watching, and fortunately, no break-in occurred at that point in time. The most unfortunate thing about that is, that if someone were to break in and get tore up by a dog, even though the cops would probably not pursue any charges against the homeowner, the burglar could still possibly sue you in civil court, which, to me, is absolute lunacy that a lawyer would even consider taking that up. About that same time, I also heard a story about one of the big cities in America, which was having continual warehouse break-ins, the thieves always getting away. So they bought or leased some guard trained Dobermans, which would stay in the warehouses after hours. When there had obviously been a break-in and the thieves had still gotten away, the cops would check the hospitals to see who had been in for stitches as the result of a dog bite. Thus they caught many of those thieves.
Somewhere down the road, a person whom wants/needs to make sure that their dog will protect them if necessary, is going to ask themselves or someone else, do I need to have my dog trained to protect me? I can provide two possible answers based on personal experience. One, most any dog will protect their own domain, which you are a part of if you have established a sound relationship with your dog, some more, some less, though some are afraid of a hostile person, unless backed into a corner, and then the dog can become very dangerous to the intruder (GOOD!), depending upon the breed and physical conditioning of the dog. There are many breeds which are excellent guard and/or protection dogs, aside from those which are well known for that, which I cover in my video "Dog Breeds and Their Various Purposes".
A breed which has the guard instinct fully engrained probably doesn't need much, if any, training to be a fine, personal protector. In my opinion, there are two main, necessary elements for one of these to be an effective protector: a solid relationship with the master, and; good physical conditioning, whether that is the run of the farm or a daily walk/romp and 2-3 jogs per week. They need to be strong and tough in order to perform well in that arena. This answer brings us to the second answer.
Two; a strong, tough, untrained guard type dog CAN do more damage to a perpetrator, than a professionally trained dog WILL do. A professionally trained dog will stop biting/charging once the perpetrator is down and/or no longer resisting (at least they're supposed to), whereas an untrained dog which is just as tough & strong, is more likely to keep going until the assailant is either driven away or torn apart. The trained one will go for the body parts that it has been trained to go after, whereas the untrained dog, you never know for sure what body part they may bite. The trained dog can purposely disarm a suspect, whereas the untrained dog may or may not. I would base a decision of whether or not to professionally train on circumstances if I wasn't sure. For example, out in the country, the need for precision is probably not as necessary as it is in some of the big cities, though it could be. It is up to each individual and their situation.
It is an unfortunate fact of life in American society now, that due to selfish people and greedy lawyers, that someone can break into your home, rob you at gunpoint, threaten you, and if you retaliate & the robber makes it out of your house under his own power, he can sue you if the "court" says that you used excessive force, and injure them too badly. To that I can only say to become familiar with laws pertaining to that if you are in a high crime area. I, and I think most people, agree that "a man's home is his castle". The way I see it, an armed invasion of an enemy power on this country, is simply a large scale version of an armed robbery. There are rules of conduct for war, so all we can do in a situation like that is to do what we have to do, and with a certain amount of discretion, making our own (and/or familiy's) safety priority. I believe that most of the court's rulings in situations like that are based upon the situation and the available options of all involved. There are also certain laws in place so that someone can't secretly invite an enemy to their home, with the intent of killing them once they walk inside. Abuse can go on in many different ways. As far as a protection dog goes, the people whom train dogs for that for a living should be well prepared to more fully expound on laws pertaining to those circumstances.
A synonym of aggressive is, "militant also implies a fighting disposition, but suggests not self seeking but extreme devotion to a cause, movement, etc.". Very desirable and needful, no matter whether your dog is a pet only, a pet/working dog, or an all out, professional working dog. For example, a dog is obviously fighting when against an assailant, but a dog is also "fighting" when on the trail of a coon, running an obstacle course, or competing in an obedience contest, so to speak, or any number of other things which dogs do. Just as any dog becomes more stable and even once trained, an overly energetic, possibly aggressive dog will become well behaved if his energy is directed to constructive, and acceptable, pursuits.
I started working at age 12 or 13, baling hay & straw & picking up rocks, for area farmers, having started lifting weights at about that time also. I was very energetic, probably hyper, and even though I had a good upbringing, had it not been for work and the weights, I would likely have gotten into a lot more mischief and thus, trouble, than what I did. It is the same way with dogs.
Nowadays, the highly, overly-energetic and/or hyper kids are put on prescription drugs in order to mellow them out. Thanks to excessiveness of child labor and discipline laws, which have all but made it a crime for parents to discipline their kids and/or make them work, society is raising future generations of possible drug addicts and lawless people, whom will maybe never have much discipline or self control (although I firmly believe in the practice of giving respect and receiving respect in return, in probably most cases). It is the same way with dogs. When they're not worked, disciplined or corrected, they turn into a pack (or an individual) of out of control rebels just waiting for a chance to go wild (which is human nature of every one of us). I'm as much for freedom and liberty as anyone, and am glad that people like Adolph Hitler and many others have been stopped, but we do need to have guidelines.
Think of it this way. You take a street criminal/thug, who may be tough and skillful, but has no principles to guide and restrain him. They usually pick on people because they're insecure, rob people because they're selfish and lack guidance, and hurt and kill people because they've no restraint. Now take, say, a military special forces operator. He's been mercilessly conditioned, highly trained and thoroughly proven. He's tougher than most whom are untrained and more lethal than ten other people, but he has principles with which to guide him, true purposes with which to be driven, and knowledge with which to know when and when not, to use certain skills, or to use alternative skills. As with dogs, there can be a middle ground here. If you don't have your dog trained professionally, you can at least make sure that when you say no, he knows to stop what he is doing.
While it is true that a dog does not have the moral discernment that people do, he has a superior sixth sense which is a good substitute when trained, even when untrained for guard duty, and loyalty second to none. If he knows that it would displease his master to attack unprovoked or except on necessary command (or any other disobedience), most trained dogs will refrain. If they don't refrain, I would look around for mitigating circumstances (someone teasing, bullying the dog, being hostile, not necessarily towards the dog, wanting to steal, damage property or people, things like that). The uninformed can conjecture all they want, but animals do not bite for no reason. If a dog bites someone, there is a reason. That reason could be overprotectiveness, which is the owner's responsibility to correct. It could be someone startling the dog. There are many possible answers for any given situation.
One last definition of aggressive is, "conspicuously or obtrusively energetic", which is most dog's nature, and is good.
Todd A. Slee
9750 S 450 W
South Whitley, IN 46787
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