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Tool Dependence

Uncategorized May 03, 2018

There are hundreds and thousands of different types of dog training tools on the market from treats to shock collars. Here at Dogmanship Australia I choose to use gentle and effective tools in the foundation training but that’s a post for another day. What I want to talk about is phasing out using tools.

To me, the purpose of a training tool is to help in the initial stages of training with the goal of not needing the tool again…ever! When your using tools the way you use them makes a big difference, many trainers use equipment such a halters, harnesses etc to stop the dog pulling but they’re not actually teaching the dog not to pull they’re just using equipment to stop the immediate problem. This doesn’t work as a long term solution for a couple a reasons. Firstly, the dog is never learning how to behave when not on equipment so the moment you finish training and take the equipment off the dog reverts back to ignoring everything you say. Secondly the dog owners will almost never reach their dog training goals while being dependant on the equipment. If your dog is not learning to listen to you regardless of equipment, then you’ll never be able to let the dog off at the park and trust they will come back OR have friends over and have your dog calmly lay on his mat before being invited to greet them OR be able to walk your dog without pulling you down the street or to try to get to other dogs because THEY ARE ONLY DOING WHAT THEYRE TOLD BECAUSE OF THE EQUIPMENT!
So let’s test this theory… if you have a dog currently being trained using equipment or training tools (food included) try to give a command they are familiar with using the tool then take them completely off lead and give the same command. If they respond the same way both times, congratulations your dog is not dependant on the tool for that command. If they follow the command the first time then ignore the second command then that is tool dependence!
So if you’ve established your dog has become training tool dependent what do you do? Firstly contact your trainer. Your trainer should be able to give you advice on phasing out equipment with the goal of your doing being able to do everything completely off-lead (that doesn’t mean you SHOULD have them off lead but you should be able to if you wanted) Secondly… there is no secondly, if your dog trainer can’t do that then get a new trainer;)

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