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Training and Behavior

Several years ago we had an Old English Sheepdog, Dudley, who believed with all of his heart that he was “top dog” of our entire household and that we, his humans, should get with the program. (There is a photo of Dudley and his sister, Alissa, on the Pet Loss page)

Among my attempts to get him with MY program included having an Animal Behaviorist come to our house to offer advise.

But this presented me with a few snags:  “What do you mean I can’t let him sleep with us because that promotes his belief that he is, at the VERY LEAST!!! our equal????”  …and “I can’t pet or hug him unless he earns it by obeying some command…doesn’t matter if it’s relevant, he just has to do it because I say so???”

Of course, I understood the premise behind these techniques, but they were completely foreign to the type of easy-going, loving relationship I wanted with a dog.

Next I had a well-known and respected local Animal Trainer come to work with us. Dudley did fairly well with some of the initial commands, but then he got tired of “playing nice” and stopped following instructions.  The Trainer ran a very tight ship, and after watching for a few minutes as Dudley “declined” to do as I asked, he came over and took the leash out of my hand.  At almost the same time, my young daughter, Alissa, came out the front door to watch…and to her horror, she saw the trainer yank Dudley up in the air so that Dudley’s feet were totally off the ground and her beloved dog was dangling by his collar, choking, and very frightened.

Fortunately, in more recent years there has been a shift from the “you WILL obey” school of dog training to methods that “encourage and reward”. One of the terms for this much more humane and effective method is Positive Reinforcement Training.

For additional info on behavior and training:

Bow-Wow Psychology
Proper Petiquette reinforces dog’s good behavior.

Who's in Charge Here
A lesson in becoming Alpha   

Puppy and adult dogs training tips.

The theory behind behavioral drive.

Behavior, socialization and training.


The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell
Note:  I have done a personal telephone consult with Ms. McConnell, and found her extremely kind and helpful.  Her website is http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/

Bones Would Rain from the Sky, by Suzanne Clothier

The Power of Positive Dog Training, by Pat Miller, Jean Donaldson



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