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DarnFar Ranch LLC Professional Dog Training
Changing the actions, aptitudes and attitudes of dogs and their people

Can We Have The Training Commands?

Email Inquiry: We are thinking about adopting Max from the xxxxxx Humane Society. We were told that he received training at your facility. Did Max have any issues we need to be aware of. We have grandchildren ages 1,2 and 3. Would he be comfortable with them? (One is a little leary of dogs.) We are also concerned with maintaining his training. Could you let us know what commands he knows? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Answer: Please feel free to explore our website to get a sense of our philosophy regarding dog training. In a nutshell, our professional opinion is that dogs are a reflection of the relationship they have with their people. This is similar to how a child can be an angel with Grandma Jones, but is a hellion with Grandma Smith. Or, how kids are well behaved when with one teacher, but are completely out of control with a different teacher (or school bus driver, or coach, or aunt or parent). It's the same kid - different relationship. If a child has been trained to make his bed in the morning, he will make his bed in the morning when he is with his mother. She does not even have to remind the child. The bed is made, and made well, before he comes down stairs for breakfast. But, when his father is the one in charge, the kid often doesn't make his bed. Does that suggest the child doesn't know how to make a bed? Or, does it suggest that the father doesn't have the same standards for the child's behavior? We would argue that dogs and kids fall into the latter category (you can teach them to perform at a very high standard, but if they don't believe in your authority, they won't always do what they know how to do). For that reason, “training comands” do not transfer the way that you hope it might. On the same day, within the same hour (or even same 30 minutes), a dog can behave exceedingly well when with one person and as soon as the leash goes into the hands of another person, the dog will act out; sometimes very badly. We have hundreds of hours of video evidence of that phenomenon. You are not acquiring a refrigerator that has been calibrated to stay at a specific temperature. A dog reads the person "in charge" and decides whether he can trust that person's authority. Our concept of "dog training" requires as much "people training" to make certain the dog can trust the owner's authority, as it does educating the dog. There is no way for us to assess Max's behavior at this time. An assessment would require not only seeing him, but meeting who is handling/ owning / controlling him. We video recorded Max's training when he was with us. We spend 5-6 hours (perhaps more) with his owners at their Board/Train pick-up appointment. A few weeks later, based on an email correspondence, it seemed that Max's owners were not following through with the recommendations for proper management and training that we suggested. That could have had a negative influence on him, since he learned that the standards we set with him do not need to be followed. But, we can always get a dog back to the level of behavior he was when he left here, after training. It just may take longer for the dog to believe in our authority, since he learned it doesn't apply all the time. Teaching animals (from frogs to humans) is a complicated art, not a clear-cut, black & white science. My husband, Robert, did discuss these concepts with the representative from the xxxxxxx Humane Society. We are surprised that she may have suggested you can just get a "download" of the training commands that Max learned when he was here and you'd be able to communicate with him at the level he was when he left here after Board/Train. It just doesn't work like that, at least not in our professional experience. I am sorry if my answer isn't what you were hoping. © 2010 Tammie Rogers - all rights reserved. For permission to reprint email Tammie.