Sunday, December 6, 2009

What does dog training mean to me.

I am so lucky. I bought my first dog as an adult to have as a running friend. I was living on my own and running about 80 km per week and thought that having a dog along would be good fun and some company. Its what some guys did and I thought I could be a guy like that. But getting a dog left me with a lot of questions , how do I train it for starters? As a boy we had Doberman Pinschers and cattle dogs. These were trained with a choke/check chain and basically did what ever they wanted such as attacking local kids on bikes and eating cats. Here I was at 30 something years of age and getting in touch with feelings (freaky stuff). So I had no idea how to raise my new 8 week old puppy. Though I did have a stranger help me. I was out walking my puppy one night in Balmain and some young macramé wearing hippy feral guy walks up to me and ask about my puppy. He says that if you treat a puppy with love and gentleness you will have a friend for ever.

So when I was a kid I watched our dog trained with aversion techniques and attack people and bite them. My father was somehow proud of this vicarious machismo display, most of the time I was just embarrassed.

So I took this strangers words in to my heart and treated this dog with gentleness and love. I never hit, yelled or scolded.  I must confess now that this dog Scout was a very special dog. She was a cattle cross bull terrier. I bought from a pet shop in Newtown for $60. She was the most perfect dog I have ever owned in my life. She would do any thing for a ball and pat. I ended up with a dog of friendship and loyalty she was unlike any dog I had ever been associated with before in my life. She would never bite anyone. She would not bark at anything she was so sweet and friendly. My perception of dog ownership was changing.

Go foward a couple of years and I take my super fit dog to flyball to give her an outlet for all her energy. I turn up with all these crazy people and their dogs, they all seem quite nice (people and dogs). They talk about some weird stuff like staking my dog when I am setting up equipment. Mind you I had not taught  my dog a sit or a stay she just seemed to do what I wanted her to do.

So this flyball things seems like a bit of a fun, I meet some nice people and go off to a seminar. Run by a guy named Steve Pitt, he introduces me to a concept called operand conditioning positive reinforcement training an extension of classical conditioning. With these new found concepts I am dog to complete tasks/tricks like shake hand and roll over. I am excited by the possibilities. A light is switched on in my head and the fun begins...


  1. scout really was perfect wasnt she? she made it seem so easy. maybe it is when you dont think about it too much!

  2. nice to read a bit of your story Trent! Please tell more like this! Scout sounds like she was wonderful.