The DOG’S PERSPECTIVE Training Philosophy
How To Train Your Dog by Thinking Like a Dog
The Dog’s Perspective is a dog training philosophy based on training a dog by thinking like a dog. Training is both dog-friendly and human-friendly. All training techniques are not only humane, but more importantly “dogmane”. Volume 1 of our new book series, The Dog’s Perspective: How to Train a Dog by Thinking Like a Dog, explains our training philosophy in more detail. Below is a summary of our training philosophy.
Our training philosophy is a canine-version of Positive Discipline, a popular parenting model for human children. The positive part of Positive Discipline stresses that children and dogs should always be treated with calm, friendly and respectful methods. The discipline part of Positive Discipline has NOTHING to do with punishment, but everything to do with teaching and guidance. Positive Discipline recognizes there are good and bad behaviors exhibited by children, but that children, themselves, are good. Applying Positive Discipline to dog training, there are no bad dogs, just good and bad behaviors. Good behaviors can be encouraged and bad behaviors can be discouraged without negatively impacting dogs verbally, physically or emotionally. These ideas are the foundation of the Dog’s Perspective.
Just like humans, dogs have feelings and core emotions. Also similar to humans, dogs naturally live in family groups that are led by adult parents. However, dogs are not humans and do not think like humans. Humans use their large, complex brains to make decisions because they have a superior level of consciousness that is not part of the dog’s brain. While humans can reflect on the past and project into the future, the dog’s level of consciousness is limited to being in the present. Humans would do well to look towards dogs to learn the Zen of being in the Now.
Humans use reasoning and have a value system not shared by their canine companions. Dogs are most curious about the latest whiff that swirls through their large and amazingly sensitive noses. Dogs sense the world very differently than humans because their go-to sense is their sense of smell (aka olfaction). They primarily “see” the world first through their magnificently complex noses, and then use their eyes and ears to compliment understanding what their noses sense. Also different than many humans, dogs give boundless, unconditional love. They just want to hang with their humans. They are the best BFF’s.
Our training philosophy and techniques are based on understanding the biology of dogs coupled with learning theory, and is most similar in approach to dog training as Positive Discipline is to child parenting. By understanding the dog’s perspective, humans learn to communicate with dogs on their level instead of making dogs communicate on the human’s level. This makes dog training practical, easy and rewarding for everyone, especially dogs. The Dog’s Perspective is reward-based training that encourages desirable dog behaviors. However, dogs are allowed to make mistakes and encouraged to learn from their mistakes with gentle guidance and encouragement. Use of appropriate training gear for each training activity is advocated, which allows training techniques to be dog-friendly, human-friendly, humane and “dogmane”. Training relies on verbal, visual and touch cues, with emphasis on eye contact, hand signals, verbal praise and gentle touch. Food rewards are used in training, but are not the primary type of reward. Gentle touch and praise are the primary rewards. Ultimately, training relies on hand signals, verbal praise and gentle touch to encourage desirable behaviors and discourage undesirable behaviors.
Our objective is to make the dream of having a trained dog a reality, quickly and easily. Dog training can be easy, fun and successful if it is fun for everyone. The Dog’s Perspective training techniques are kind, gentle and guiding. Dogs and humans learn how to engage with each other and live in harmony. When you have a trained dog, everyone is a Lucky Dog!
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of dog training and human educating experience. The Dog’s Perspective is a training philosophy based on how dogs think.