Dog Training using the Dog Whisperer Approach

If you think you’ve tried everything to change your dog’s behavior, try taking a dog whisperer’s approach. Dog whispering is a holistic technique to change your dog’s behavior. The dog whisperer takes an enlightened approach and advocates nonviolent training of your pet. Through this type of dog training, it is the goal to establish a bond built on trust, compassion, and mutual affection.

Dog’s Behavior Is Related to Your Emotional State

A dog can sense when a person is stressed and he will feed off this stress. Dogs can smell hormones released by a person’s body which tells them the emotional state of the person that they are in contact with. This may explain why your dog barks at some people and not at others. When there is action and energy in the environment, the dog is more active and energetic. If the environment is soothing and calming, the dog is at peace.

When training your dog, it is helpful to create a peaceful and stress-free atmosphere. Before training your pet, try this breathing exercise:

Close your eyes with the dog in your lap. Take in full deep breaths and visualize what you want your dog to do in the training session. Forget about other life’s obligations and focus your energy and concentration on the task at hand. Do this breathing exercise for ten minutes. You will notice that when you open your eyes, your dog will be calm as well. You are now ready for successful training!

Tools and Phases of Behavioral Training

Training your dog is similar to teaching a child. It takes time, skill and even more patience. Here are eight tools offered by Paul Owens, renowned dog whisperer and author of The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Dog Training:

1. Ignore the undesirable behavior – This approach is termed “extinction” by psychologists. If your dog does something you do not desire, like jumping, simply ignore him. This will eventually terminate the behavior.

2. Positive reinforcement – Reward behaviors that you desire by praising, patting, or offering a treat.

3. Play the “magnet game” – This approach is a little bit trickier for the dog. You wait for the dog to figure out what you want without having to ask for it. For example, if you want the dog to lay still when you get up from the couch, turn away from him when he gets up. If he lays still, reward him. You are creating a “magnet” for a desired behavior.

4. Remove the cause of the behavior – This technique is simply removing the stimulus that is causing an undesirable behavior. If the dog growls at the sight of a kitten, remove the kitten to cease growling.

5. Substitution – Substitute desirable behavior for an undesirable one. If your dog begins barking, throw a ball for him to fetch. (He will have the ball in his mouth which will stop the barking!) Yelling at your dog to stop barking only adds fuel to the fire. The dog will sense your stress and frustration and just continue barking.

6. Counter-conditioning – You want to change how the dog perceives the situation. When a dog is upset and growls or barks at something, usually it is out of fear or sense of insecurity. Teach the dog to look at things positively by giving him a treat or smiling and petting him when the object of fear approaches.

7. Put behavior on cue – When you want your dog to do a particular behavior, associate a word or hand gesture with it and praise when he does the behavior. If you would like to quiet your dog, say “Quiet” in a strong, stern voice and reward him when he is silent.

8. Get your dog used to the situation – You can do this through presenting your dog with the situation continuously over a period time or forcing him into a situation until he gets used to it. If you want your dog to stop his agitation with your kitten, you may present the kitten to him for ten minutes a day everyday for a month or you could put them in the same room for a whole day (with supervision!) until he gets used to the kitten.

When training your dog, you want to create an environment that lets the dog be himself within your lifestyle. In traditional dog training, we punish bad behaviors by spanking or hitting the dog. When you use violence to train your dog, this harms and stops growth. Taking a nonviolent approach promotes self-awareness, health, growth, and safety for you and your dog. Relating to your dog from the heart, or an emotional manner, and using gentle persuasion brings about a more obedient and happier dog.

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