The things some people will do to win a rosette...
Norwich Dog Training School – The things some people will do to win a rosette or gain a qualification….
What might surprise you are the things that some people will do to win a rosette or gain a ‘qualification’ with their dogs….
The love and companionship we receive from our dogs is pure – there’s no hidden agenda, it’s right there starring you in the face. But the sad fact of life is that dogs in comparison to ourselves, have relatively short lives. But still, so many people see dogs as nothing more than a disposable commodity from which they can profit – and they’ll do almost anything to achieve what they perceive to be a success. The decision on how you train your dog is down to you, and what your conscience allows. While many people will consider some of the strategies described below to be bordering on abuse, there are countless others that consider these to be clever or indeed good training and will try their damnedest to convince you, that their perceived wisdom is the best path to follow. We make no assumptions here, but the route you take is down to you.
When training your dog, you should always remember, there are numerous ways to achieve your goals and that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’.
When training your dog, especially for competition it is important to realise that the ‘playing field’ is far from a level one from a number of perspectives: The ability of individual as trainer; the ability of the dog ‘as a student’; the time, money and resources that some people have that can be utilised to achieve their goals. Not to mention the things some people are prepared to do to their dogs to achieve success. Keep in mind that there are many individuals who will travel virtually anywhere and everywhere to try and learn (or copy) from others. Many have or develop an apparent impulsiveness that borders on ADHD, taking their dogs abroad to Europe or the USA to learn from others – and if after all this effort, their dog fails to make the grade or is too difficult to train – then the dog is sold on or rehomed as being considered ‘not suitable for the sport’.
For many the lines get badly blurred, as to what they will do to win a rosette or gain qualification which begs the question of whether they are training for a sport or hobby – something that can be enjoyed by ‘the team’ or whether there is something more sinister coming into play here…… the owners EGO!
It’s a fact of life, that serious competitors have both pet dogs, and ‘competition dog(s)’. These dogs are often used for one thing only ‘competition’ which can result in the animal(s) having a life that most people would consider ‘unnatural’. The dogs being kept in a kennel, spending much of their lives crated up with their owners trying to control virtually every moment of their lives and restricting their interaction with others. You may see them turn up for a competition with their dog in a crate; the dog is taken out and quickly returned to the crate after competing. The only real outlet for many of these dogs is when they’re being worked. Many are handled by only one person for a number of reasons. The handler doesn’t want anyone else becoming too familiar with the animal and they seek to become the animal’s sole provider and ‘universe’, besides ensuring consistency with commands, routines etc. Some of the protection trained dogs, may not be safe around others due to the way they have been ‘trained’ or the dogs temperament.
At NDTS we believe that as far as possible treats, toys, games and fuss are great motivators for dog training; but we accept that dogs need discipline and control – especially with some of the larger and more challenging breeds. While most trainers use food and toys for motivation – you may not be aware, but there are many people competing in various sports of one form or another that will do almost anything to win.
Countless competitors over the years have learned to hide treats or toys on their person when competing – some will perform almost ‘religious rituals’, praying to the ‘all seeing trial god for help and inspiration’, while others wear ‘lucky’ clothes, hats… even using lucky leads to give them confidence. Others surreptitiously utilise ‘equipment’ which may have a dual purpose – such as a lead or collar that can be used as a ‘toy and tool’ to help them get through.
While food is a great motivator for both humans and dogs, there are plenty of trainers who take this to another ‘level’, by only feeding their dogs while they are being trained – so the dog quickly learns to associate dinner with training. In effect the dog has to work for its meal – but what you may find surprising is that the number of trainers using this strategy only feed low value, cheap foods such as kibble, because it’s less messy to keep in pockets. Having the belief, that a very hungry dog will almost do anything for food. So as you would expect, many of these dogs look under fed or malnourished, as they rarely get hearty well balanced meal. Our belief is that while we often use food for motivation, I guess we’re arguably a ‘little soft’ compared to some, as we believe dogs, just like ourselves have the right to look forward to satisfying meal. For us, just feeding when training is a ‘bridge too far’.
You will no doubt have heard the term ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’. To emphasise the point – If I ever leave my dog in the back of my car, I can guarantee that on my return, my buddy will be pleased to see me. However, contrary to ‘popular training belief’ – if I did the same to my wife, then I assure you the result wouldn’t be quite the same!…
So accepting this principle, numerous trainers believe in locking their dog away in a kennel or even boarding them elsewhere before a competition, just to ensure their ‘sports dog’ will be pleased to see them when they collect and will hopefully perform better on competition day.
While many trainers feel that there is a place for e-collars (electric collars), as a last resort to help overcome potential training issues or life-threatening situation. There is a vast cohort of trainers who want success quickly and with minimum effort, who’ll make their dogs wear e-collars (often expensive and covert) for every hour their animal is awake. To ensure they have total control and that their dog is fully conditioned. Usually, it is quite easy to identify dogs trained this way, as they’re often devoid of the personality and cheekiness most dogs display – performing as an automaton. However, worryingly for trainers reliant on e-collars is that they’ll soon be in for a bit of a ‘shock’ when their use becomes prohibited in February 2024, but arguably their use will simply be driven underground or users will use more clandestine equipment.