Category Archives: Adult dog relationship training

The Value of Relationships in Training.

I was involved in an interesting discussion today on a Facebook group I belong to which is called  Building Strong Relationships with Animal Companions. We were discussing the impact of training on these relationships. It got me to thinking about the role of training in my relationships with animals. I am an animal trainer and have been professionally and non professionally for over 40 years. I have always been considered as having a gift for training animals but I will let you in on a secret.

I actually don’t do a great deal of training with most of the animals I live with!

Sure I teach them the basics; sit, drop, stay, come but outside of that unless I want a particular behaviour for a video or a demonstration I don’t do any formal training sessions. Yep you heard that right – no formal training sessions. But I can hear most of you saying “Your dogs are so well trained, they listen to your every word”. Yes you are right they know exactly what I am thinking and most of the time I know pretty well what they are thinking.

Years ago I used to attend classes at one of Sydney’s best know dog obedience schools called Manly and District Kennel and Dog Training Club and I trained under the late and very well know NSW top obedience trainer, Garry Sommerville, who held that title for years. We drilled the dogs for an hour, round and round and in straight lines up and back and I went home and religiously drilled the dog/s for 30 minutes each night. Sit, stay, drop, down, come, fetch, pick up dumbell the whole full obedience routine and I, sort of, had reasonably trained dogs but boy was it hard work. All those years ago I was of course using jerking on check chains and physically placing my dogs into position. I confess I did a few alpha rolls as well.  (This was back in the late 80’s). I loved my dogs that goes without saying but mytraining interactions with them were not loving ones.

Fast forward to the year 2009 when after spending years as a balanced trainer moving closer and closer towards modern reward based methods I decided to train as a Delta instructor where the method uused was totally positive reward based force free training. BUT what I also learnt about was how dogs learn, how they think, how to read their body language. What that did, along with the use of reward based training was taught me how to understand and establish a relationship with the animal I was working with, which is over and above just training it. By removing all the forceful elements I had to work out how to get the dog to interact with me willingly and that takes relationship building.

For my own animals at home I interact with them all day and night most days. I talk to them, think about them, listen to them and yes they listen to me, talk to me and in so doing we have all developed a relationship. I don’t just ignore them until it is time t0 put a lead on and have a “training session”.  When I require something I ask them to do it e.g go out to and get in the car, go through a doorway, wait before coming inside, going out to toilet. I talk to them endlessly always stating in a non confrontational manner what it is I require. I talk with my hands a great deal as well, so I expect I also inadvertently give a great number of non verbal body language cues to match my verbal cues.

I am training them, every minute of time that I am interacting with them we are training but more importantly I am building a very strong relationship with them as well. They know and understand what I require and I know and understand what their needs are. The fact that it is a two way communication is what makes it a relationship not just training. Because it is two way is why it is so effective as training. Much more effective than the older methods I used to employ.

So do you need training?  Yes you do

Do you need a good relationship? Yes you do

Can you have a good relationship while using training that is not based on positive force free methods? No you can’t

With both you have a match made in heaven without a good relationship the training will be very hard work but with it the training will be effortless and I love effortless training.



Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.   |    Like us on Facebook

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