Kind Hearts & Coronets: Dog Training For Those With No Credentials, But Good Instincts

last play of a June evening

Soyer, the dog who was never gonna be safe playing with another dog

Sometime soon, I’ll write a proper introduction to this section of my blog.  But I don’t want the work of writing the introduction, including the background of how I came to the decision to have this blog page, keep me from writing the ‘meat’ of it.  I want to make sure I don’t forget some of the truly inspired ideas I’ve heard and read lately about working with dogs.  For now, the title of this page gives a good idea about the content.  Oh, and by the way, the quote is from Alfred Lord Tennyson, and begins, “Kind hearts are more than coronets…”

I do want to be clear about this:  anything I write here is going to be a distillation of what I’ve picked up from various trainers and sources.  I do not claim to be accurate.  I may have misunderstood.  I’m not a dog trainer.  I may screw up, and then I hope someone will tell me.

I’m particularly interested in working with rescued dogs; in fact, that’s probably the only type of dog I’ll ever work with.  With that in mind, by far the most important thing I’ve learned lately that I’d never thought of before (at least, in this clearly defined way), is that

Sometimes you’re helping the dog change its behavior. 

Other times you’re helping the dog change the emotion behind the behavior.

To me, that is an absolutely empowering and inspiring bit of information, and I think trainers should shout it from the rooftops.  I first read it in Jean Donaldson’s, “Fight!”, when I was learning to help Soyer, and Victoria Stilwell said it again today.  Both women said it more or less in passing, as if it’s something easy enough to understand that we can almost take it for granted.  And it should be. 

Yet I do believe that most dog owners are not thinking of it at all. 

If they were, they would not even consider dominance theory training.

And so I’m going to take a few days to develop this idea in my mind, and in this blog, and with my dog friends, and see where I can get it to go.  Thank you for reading.

http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/why-not-dominance.php

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