A fundamental principle in my approach to dog training is recognising and respecting each dog's individuality. Just as no two humans are alike, no two dogs are identical in temperament, motivation, or behavioural tendencies. While breed tendencies can provide some broad-stroke insights, it's vital not to pigeonhole a dog based solely on its breed.
Drawing comparisons, whether between dogs of the same breed, different breeds, or even against our past pets, can create unrealistic expectations. By assuming all dogs of a particular breed behave the same way or expecting our current dog to be just like a past one, we inadvertently set ourselves and our dogs up for failure.
When you see the dog that walks perfectly beside its owner on the beach it's tempting to think, "Wow, they must have done some impressive training." And while that could be true, it's also entirely possible that the dog's temperament aligns with that calm behaviour. For example, they might not possess a strong prey drive and might naturally want to stick close to their owner. This isn’t due to intensive training but rather their inherent nature.
The same dog might not handle a bustling city street as calmly as another might. The dog that's pulling on its leash, excitedly chasing after every bird it spots, isn't necessarily poorly trained or misbehaved. It's merely exhibiting a higher prey drive and enthusiasm. While this same dog's training has been in relation to a different context or purpose.
Therefore, breeds that have a much more pronounced prey drive will have an instinctual urge to chase after moving objects. It's just who they are at their core! And while training can certainly help manage and channel those urges appropriately, it's a different journey.
It's also worth noting that what a dog practices daily, like barking at dogs walking past his fence, can influence their behaviour during walks. It's not always about reprimanding the behaviour but understanding where it's coming from and channelling it into desired outcomes.
The most successful and harmonious human-dog relationships are built on mutual understanding. As dog owners, trainers, or even as casual observers, we owe it to these wonderful animals to appreciate them for their unique personalities, drives, and challenges. By doing so, we can tailor our training approaches to suit each dog's individual needs, leading to more effective results and a happier life together.
Every dog is indeed different: Train the dog in front of you, not the one you wish you had. Appreciate them for who they are. They aren’t "better" or "worse" than any other dog; they’re just unique.
Understanding their motivations and tendencies allows us to connect with them better, train them more effectively, and ultimately enjoy a more fulfilling relationship with them.
Thank you for allowing me to share this perspective. We must spread the message so more dog owners can truly appreciate and understand their canine companions.
To dig deeper into understanding your dog's drives, threshold, and individual genetic makeup, check out our latest free report, Decoding Dog Behaviour.
Ryan King | OzcorpK9