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Training Your Dog: The Single Most Effective Tool

dog jumping up

"Kerry, what's your secret with dogs? Why is our dog listening instantly to you, but ignores everything command we train him to do? What's your trick to making a dog obedient?"

Oh, boy....are you sure you really want to hear the answer to this one? It's so simple.

You aren't listening.

No, really, that's it. You are treating your dog or puppy like a computer: as long as you input "correct" information in, you will automatically get reliable responses back. Give your dog a command, and they obey like they're programmed to, right?

But your dog or puppy is more like Artificial Intelligence. Your pup will do exactly what you commanded them to do. Or at least process that information as you give it.

For instance, look what happens when I input a simple command into an AI generator. I asked it to generate a pic of a puppy being pet. This is what I got.

Puppy meeting new people
Not quite what I was looking for. It just looks...Picasso

So I tried again with more words: Picture of a puppy being trained by owner.

Puppy playing outside
Available from a local rescue in Chernobyl

Okay, last try: Cute puppy being taught to sit by owner:

Puppy meeting new people
I think this is from a scene in Eyes Wide Shut

So what happened? Where did I go wrong? I didn't listen. Instead of slowing down and backing up with the amount of information I added to an already mildly chaotic situation, (the initial pic of a puppy being pet by an extra from The Last of Us), I added more stimuli/information when the original information was not understood by the AI.

Now put that into line with your dog's behavior.

Understanding the Basics of Dog and Puppy Training

At its core, dog training is about more than just teaching your puppy to perform tricks on command; dog training is not just about obedience—it's about enhancing the quality of life for both you and your canine companion. To do that, you need communication, a common language. Something you both can agree on and understand, and the only place to start.

For my AI puppy, it turned out that I all I needed to do was remove some words. Tried it again with "cute puppy"

Cute puppy playing outside

By building on that commonality, I could gradually start adding more specifics: cute puppy and person.

Each time I added only one word, until AI and worked together to come up with this cute puppy sitting outside with little kid.

child playing with new puppy

The Distinction Between Dog Training and Canine Behavior

So where does that leave us when trying to work through our dog's quirks? Well, now we are diving into the riveting world of the canine world's biggest mix-up: dog training versus canine behavior. Trust me, it's like comparing apples to orangutans; they're both part of the animal kingdom but play very different roles in the grand scheme of things.

First off, let's chat about dog training. Picture this: you're teaching Fido to sit, stay, and maybe do a cute little twirl on command because, let's face it, who doesn't love a dog that can moonlight as a circus performer? Dog training is all about obedience, tricks and basic commands.

Dog training relies heavily on your dog's ability to listen to you.

I didn't say obey: I said listen. As in, is your dog currently capable of hearing you? Or are you being drowned out by other stimuli such as a dog walking across the street, that ball they want to play with, or even just their own internal energy that hasn't been burned off?

Now, flip the coin, and you've got canine behavior. This is where the plot thickens and things get as intricate as your favorite soap opera. Canine behavior dives deep into the why behind Fido's antics. Why does he bark like there's no tomorrow every time the doorbell rings? Why is he redecorating your home with a distinct chewed-shoe flair? Understanding canine behavior is like being a doggy detective, analyzing and addressing the root cause of your pup's actions, not just putting a Band-Aid on them.

Grasping the difference between these two is like holding the leash to solving the enigma of your dog's quirky (read: bewildering) actions. While dog training lays the groundwork for basic manners, diving into the nitty-gritty of canine behavior helps tackle those head-scratching moments. Whether you're dealing with a sassy pup who's got more attitude than a reality TV star or a scaredy-dog facing his own shadow, knowing when to switch hats from a trainer to a behaviorist can make all the difference.

Dog training is the art of teaching your new puppy or dog specific responses to cues or commands. It's a focused on instilling reactions like sitting, staying, or coming when called. It's a shortcut to making life easier with your puppy or dog, always relying on the same responses to the same set of stimuli.

Dog obediently sitting

So, to all you fabulous pet parents out there ready to add a sprinkle of chaos (also known as a dog) to your life, remember: understanding the disco dance between dog training and canine behavior is your best defense against the surprises your new furry housemate has up their paw. Now, go forth and become the dynamic dog duo your neighborhood didn’t know it needed.

Dog training is the art of teaching your new puppy or dog specific responses to cues or commands. It's a focused on instilling reactions like sitting, staying, or coming when called. It's a shortcut to making life easier with your puppy or dog, always relying on the same responses to the same set of stimuli.

For example, a dog may naturally get excited and jump on you. A puppy will pee on your carpet. Those are all normal canine behaviors. Having a dog sit rather than jumping, or having a puppy pee outside, that's all training.

Behavior is something that is natural, but can have a negative or positive on a situation. So how do you work through those negative canine behaviors?

Fixing Your Dog's Negative Behaviors: Piloting

Dog behavior is something that is natural, but can have a negative or positive on a situation. So how do you work through those negative canine behaviors?

Piloting Method of behavior delves into the realm of a dog or puppy's naturally existing behaviors, giving you the opportunity to gently negate those unsavory doggie habits, such as barking, jumping, or even guiding your dog through issues such as separation anxiety. Canine behavior is your dog's response to questions about their world.

Dog behavior relies upon your ability to hear your dog.

That's why I constantly remind my clients to think of what their dog is doing in a form of a question: Can I jump on you?

Obviously the answer is "no". Not bad, not wrong,

Just as communicating with my AI for a decent pic of a puppy, being precise and using a common method of communication and understanding with your dog is integral. Pain or violence (such as shock collars or prong collars) will never form the basis of trust and communication!

But neither does bribing your way through an answer with treats.

Dog: "Can I jump?"
Owner: "I'll give you a treat if you stop jumping"

You've just trained your dog to sit patiently for a treat before jumping again. You definitely have not encouraged self-induced impulse control, and the best outcome you can get is that potentially your dog will sit, but will always demand a treat in return.

Probably not what you were going for, since you were looking for your dog to simply stop jumping. You weren't listening to their question and answering it appropriately, gently giving a negative answer.


Dog: "Can I jump?"
Owner: *shocks their dog

You did not train your dog to sit instead of jumping. You never answered their question about jumping, you've just made them more afraid to ask any other questions.

The idea is to work with your dog through mutual respect and empathy, not through Stockholm Syndrome.

Communication that enhances your bond and enables a smooth coexistence. It's the tailored approach taken to normal dog and puppy behaviors such as jumping, barking and impulse control, to aggression, fear, anxiety, or any other concern that disrupts your dog's ability to lead a balanced life. Piloting your dog's behavior lays the groundwork for basic obedience training and mutual understanding.

It's essential to approach Piloting your dog with a blend of patience, knowledge, and empathy. That goes for your dog, too. This process requires a deeper dive into the why behind your dog's actions, employing strategies that not only correct undesired behaviors but also promote emotional healing and stability, for both of you.

Positive reinforcement (without resorting to bribery) plays a crucial role here as well, reinforcing the trust and respect at the foundation of your relationship with your dog.

Celebrating Successes: The Journey of Dog Training

In every step of your dog training adventure, from the initial sit command to mastering complex tricks, each achievement is a moment worth celebrating. These triumphs, big or small, aren't just milestones; they're the building blocks of a profound bond between you and your canine companion. Acknowledging these successes does more than boost your dog's confidence—it reaffirms your commitment to their growth and happiness. Whether it's through a special treat, extra playtime, or simply words of praise, taking the time to celebrate these moments enriches the training experience, making it a joyous journey filled with mutual respect and love. Remember, each success is a step forward in your shared journey, highlighting the progress you've both made and setting the stage for future learning. So, embrace every victory with enthusiasm and pride, for these are the moments that define the rewarding path of dog training.

And let's be honest, sometimes it's difficult to find that "moment worth celebrating".

Knowing when to walk away is worth celebrating, though. When my daughter was younger, a phrase I would often say when we were both struggling was, "I love you very much, go to your room so I don't kill you." As she grew older, especially in her teenage years, that paid out well because we both learned that every battle is not worth fighting right now, that humor is necessary, and that yes, I love you very much, no matter what. Again, removing extra words, extra commands and getting back to the basics of communication, the same way with my AI generation journey.

woman outside playing with new dog

So that's the best I was able to do after working with an AI tool for quite a little while to come up with a good picture of a "dog and owner together outside". It didn't take too long, but it took a lot of listening on my part.

Wait, listening to a computer?

Well, maybe more like seeing how my inputs affected the output. Seeing when either I was deviating from actively communicating (i.e., rage typing), or the AI tool was heading down the wrong path and instantly negating that path (seriously, don't create anything AI generated using "dog hands" as a prompt; you'll never sleep again).

By focusing on communication, maintaining that communication (rather than on an expectation of obedience), and understanding that communication is something that is built rather than purchased or downloaded, I got to the place I was heading towards all along, both with my dogs and my pics.

When to Seek Professional Help with Dog Training

Embarking on the dog training journey with your new dog or puppy can be an exhilarating adventure, filled with moments of joy and triumph. However, there might come a time when the path ahead seems fraught with challenges that feel insurmountable. It's during these moments that enlisting the expertise of a professional dog trainer becomes a pivotal decision.

Whether you're navigating the complex waters of behavior modification, or simply finding yourself at a standstill with your current methods, seeking professional help can offer a new perspective and specialized strategies tailored to your dog's unique needs. Professional trainers possess the experience and knowledge to address a wide range of issues, from basic obedience to more severe behavioral concerns, providing a structured approach that can lead to breakthroughs and progress.

Dog owners and puppy parents can greatly benefit from the guidance of a seasoned trainer, ensuring that every dog has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Opting for professional assistance isn't a sign of defeat; it's a step towards deepening your understanding and enhancing the bond between you and your canine companion.

Dog Training vs. Dog Life

Embarking on the journey with your new dog or puppy is not just about companionship; it's about creating a deep-seated bond that’s rooted in trust, understanding, and effective communication. This isn't just dog training; it’s building a foundation for a lifetime of joy and mutual respect. Welcome to a new era of understanding your dog, with methods that transform and simplify the art of dog training.

Northeast Ohio, it's time to revolutionize the way we connect with our canine friends. Are you prepared to embark on a transformative journey that goes beyond the typical dog training experience? With our innovative Piloting Method, you're not just training your dog; you're learning to communicate in a language they understand. It's about time you and your dog experienced a seamless partnership. You have our promise - results are guaranteed.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: your dog isn’t flawed; he’s simply navigating a world that’s not designed for him. This realization was the catalyst for our breakthrough Piloting Method. Wave goodbye to the frustration of group classes, the uncomfortable glares, and the impractical cookie-cutter training routines. We offer real solutions for real people leading busy lives, with the guarantee of seeing a positive transformation within 30 days, or your money back.

Home is where the heart is, and also where some of the most common behavioral challenges arise - from jumping and barking to leash pulling, and beyond. Our philosophy centers on communication over coercion, partnership over dominance. We firmly stand against outdated, force-based methods like shock or prong collars, choosing instead to nurture a positive and enduring bond through understanding and respect.

Learn more about our Piloting method of dog and puppy training here.

Find out more about our private in home 30 Day Best Dog Ever and 30 Day Best Puppy Ever training packages here.

Have questions about our puppy training or dog training?

border collie dog staying

Kerry Stack

Darwin Dogs

Dog Training and Puppy Training

Greater Cleveland Area

Northeast Ohio


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