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Training Philosophy
by Bob Sansom

I must own a dozen dog-training books by as many different authors, filled with training techniques and ideas - and all guaranteed to work. It can be confusing, especially for the novice trainer, as conflicting advice and techniques are read. I remember thinking one time, "So who's got it right? The English or the American way?"

More recently, e-collar training has become the method of choice with many people successfully using the avoidance training techniques encouraged with these advanced collars. But, I ask myself, "Do I really need electricity to succeed?"

In my view, all training success comes down to a few fundamental ideas and concepts that the "Trainer" needs to understand. All of the things that we ask our dogs to do are variations of just five actions: Come, Sit, Fetch, Give, and Go. Here is where the training books are useful as they describe techniques that take these actions and tie them to a command. What I want to emphasize is this; it is how you give the command (The tone of your voice, along with body language), and how quickly you respond to the dog's action, that is crucial.

"All of the things that we ask our dogs to do are variations of just five actions: Come, Sit, Fetch, Give, and Go."

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Ian Openshaw in a training video. Ian has handled and trained more National title winners in England than anyone else ever has. Martin Deeley was doing the interview, asking the questions you would expect to be asked in a video of this kind, but the clear fundamental lesson I caught while watching Ian was his attentiveness to any dogs under his command. Whether at his feet, or hupped away, they were responsible to him and they always knew how the boss felt about things. If they wavered in their duty, he responded immediately and did not let the questioner distract him from his primary responsibilities as a trainer. I remember a few times when he would be responding to a question and correcting a dog at the same time - all the while continuing to answer with hardly a pause. He was never brutal - only immediate - and the dog understood it as it was meant.

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