The Truth About Dog Training: One Style Doesn't Fit All

At North Edge K9 we are often asked what dog training method we use. Our simple answer: "The method that works for each dog."

Of course, there's no shortage of opinions on the "right way" to train dogs; bookstore shelves are lined with treatises on different methods such as "traditional dominance," "scientific," or "positive reinforcement," and celebrity trainers trademark their methods.

But, after years of working with dogs, we firmly believe that there is no single "right way" to train them. Put simply, the "right way" depends on each dog, and this concept is important for dog owners to remember when selecting a trainer. Here's why:

Like People, Dogs Have Different Personalities

Shy. Outgoing. Playful. Reserved. Eager. Stubborn. The dog world is comprised of all these types, which makes life more interesting and sometimes a bit frustrating for dog owners.

Yes. There are common temperaments and abilities within specific breeds, but there are still considerable variations, even within litters. (Bringing us back to people, consider how different human siblings can be!)

Understanding and appreciating the differences between dogs is at the core of successful dog training and our approach. Life would be much easier if there were a one-size fits all approach to training dogs, but that is not the case. Forcing a one-style approach on all dogs is a recipe for frustration and failure.

The Impact Of Nature And Nurture

Similar to people, canine character traits are a combination of nature and nurture. Using the identical type, sequence and amount of training can and will result in different outcomes even among litter mates. Likewise, individually tailored foundation training with a particular goal in mind may result in similar desired outcomes among different breeds and temperaments.

The concept is simple – dogs have different personalities and therefore different learning styles, and techniques that work with one may not work with another.

For example:

• Some dogs obey with whispered commands, while others need firm and loud words.

• Some dogs back off easily and others stand their ground.

Much frustration can be avoided by recognizing and accepting each individual dog’s strengths and limitations, and willingness to apply your training methods within this framework.

Thinking About Hiring A Trainer?

With this in mind, make sure to consider the following when selecting a trainer:

• Does the potential trainer prescribe a method plan over the phone before actually meeting the dog? Careful evaluation of a dog is central to successful training.

• Can the trainer explain how she or he interacts with and trains dogs with different temperaments?

• Is a trainer familiar with a variety of training methods and open to finding one that best meets the needs of your dog?

We believe that there is no one-size magic tool or procedure for working with dogs. Instead, we use a variable array of tools depending on the particular dog and the specific training goals. The results of this individual, dog-centric approach is better trained, happier dogs – and owners. Want to learn more? Click here to contact us.