I LOVE nature and the outdoors… so the majority of my time training dogs is spent outside on some adventure or journey. And I find that the dogs do amazingly well because I treat them like hunters and everyday we track and hunt our prey… and eventually we always catch it! Now my definition of ‘prey’ is rather different. Most of the dogs who come to me for training struggle with reactivity, bad manners, lack of structure and even aggression. So the ‘prey’ that we are hunting isn’t cute little animals… no! The ‘prey that we are hunting is a calm state of mind, rules, structure and accountability, self confidence, independence, impulse control, and good choices.
When I take the pack for their daily structured leashed or off leash hikes they must compete against over excitement, impulsive actions and bad habits… not each other and not me. In order for us to ‘hunt’ effectively together we must all be working in unison towards a common goal… the calm and respectful structured walk. And this structured walk has so many subtle but incredibly important layers of training. There is the strict heel position (on AND off leash) that gives the dogs a job and holds them accountable for staying calm, not pulling and walking politely. There is the ‘mind your business’ … no need to gawk or fixate on other dogs/people/squirrels/etc. And there is the team work whether it is just me and one dog or me and a pack of dogs… we need to be working together as a team to have a successful ‘hunt’. We both must be tuned in to one another and present. The structured heel is much like dancing… you need to be attentive and completely aware of your partners actions and thoughts or else your going to step on each other’s feet. So as focused and tuned in as you are to your dog, your dog should be equally focused and tuned in on you. Happy ‘hunting’!