Cesar Milan was all the rage back in the days of National Geographic’s The Dog Whisperer. Milan, faced a lot of backlash from the very unscientific dog training and dog behaviorist crowd. I use the term unscientific because there is very little scientific research that is qualified since the study of canine behavior as a real field is relatively new in the scope of time. However, people are taking real time discoveries about dogs as facts. The truth of the matter is research and theories are proved with time. Many of the theories can be correct but you have people who are staunch in their beliefs and want everyone else to believe the same. And when it came to Milan, his experience as a dog behaviorist is just as valid as many dog trainers in the field.
What is dog training today? Basically, it is an approach to training based on people’s experiences with what works from gathered scientific facts and what is humane. It is a combination of art, personal experience and science. A lot of people didn’t agree with Milan’s methods but his tactics are not far off from many dog training classes that people take at Pet Smart or at private dog training locations.
Many dog trainers have heard of the Monks of New Skete. The monks train German Shepherds and talk about each stage of a dog’s life. I’ve read their book and can see how and why it could be considered the dog training scholar’s bible. It is imbued with many years of careful observation and research done by the monks. Their book greatly influenced many self-proclaimed dog behaviorists with its theories and highly involved training methods. I enjoyed reading this book for knowledge when I was trying to train my dog Iza.
Sophia Yin, a vet and a dog educator before her death had a different approach which was based out of more scientific knowledge from her background as a vet. Her videos gave valuable pointers about what to do when faced with a pack of stray dogs who are following you and how to approach a dog you don’t know. All of this is great for vet techs, everyday people dealing with dogs they are familiar with and unfamiliar with, as well as dog owners. Unfortunately, we lost Sophia Yin too soon. She did not like adverse training as a method to use with your dog.
I think the best thing to start with when training your dog is introduce words to them slowly and patiently. The most important word is, “no!” Positive reinforcement is the way to go and you should never be impatient or angry with your dog. Never hit your dog. And remember when you do take your dog to a training course, you are the alpha, not the instructor. So if you don’t agree with something that is happening, make sure you stand up for yourself and your dog.