James says

Dog training is based on Experience, Science (Knowledge) and Art.
I started when I was about 12 years old. There were not many books I could find but those I read gave me a clue of Positive reinforcement technique. I’ve made lots of mistakes anyway as I was an impatient teenager. Then, at the age of 15, I joined a group of professionals that worked with sports dog and competitions in agility and obedience. It was in 1984. Since then, I maintain high level of education in neurosciences, biology, animal psychology and behaviour. I am hopefully up-to-date with new researches and studies. I attend webinars and training courses with the world renowned specialists in veterinary and behaviour fields on regular basis. It helps to refresh my knowledge in all aspects of dog training and behaviour modifications.

The training becomes an art when all theory and practice are combined, and the experience allows you to successfully maneuver between the both.

My goal as a Dog Training Instructor and Behaviourist is not only to train dogs to do tricks and obey the commands.

The most important part of my job is to teach dog owners to understand their dogs’ behaviour. Indeed, technically, training a dog is a relatively simple process of repetition and consistency. All goes fine until you face a situation when you do all as usual but “nothing works and no one knows why”…

Important things to remember are:

  1. Dogs have no idea of how much you love them if you express it in a human’s way. Dogs do not care how much you earn and how expensive your house is and their own bed in that expensive house. You can spoil your dog rotten and call me later with one and the same question: – We love him so much, why does he become worse?

The simple answer is – dogs do not have capacity to understand our complex human life and your plans on them either. Dogs have ability to create strong bonds with their owners, dogs will do everything suitable (as much as dogs are concerned) to achieve this and peak up your attention. Some dog-owner relationships can become so pervert, the dog intentionally would do things they are aware they would be punished for just getting their owner’s attention. How ugly is that?

  1. On the other hand, dog owners often unintentionally praise their dogs’ bad behaviours, therefore making things worse and deeply rooted.

When dogs’ behaviour get misinterpreted, it leads to misjudgement and wrong treatment. Bearing in mind that dogs have no capacity to deal with their own emotions, this misjudgement often leads to putting a dog to sleep or putting him in a shelter… Keep in mind that the dog is not actually guilty and has done nothing wrong as much as the dog is concerned… I would repeat – how ugly is it?

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I keep saying for years and centuries – there is no animal ever guilty for whatever they have done. For any wrong doing of the animal (either cat, dog or a wild one), there is always human mistakes loom on the background.

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From time to time my clients tell me they were “advised” by their local dog owners that long walks are not healthy for young pups (I mean pups around 3-6 months old).

Let me clarify this moment for you.

Do’s

  1. Walks are healthy for pups at any age as you somehow need to get them exhausted. You should aim for at least two walks per day and it should normally be of at least 30 minutes each. You can have short walks in between especially for toilet training. Some puppies are more active and even 1 hour is fine when you have some time. Keep an eye on your pup to pick up the moment dog gets tired.
  2. When your pup meets other dogs, they do run. So I see no issues if you make an organised trot with your pup for a short distance of 50-100 metres on occasional basis. It helps to create a bond in between you two and puppies love it as it is a perfect game with both parties engaged.

Don’ts

No jumping up until your pup is at least 6 months old. Think joints. Heavier dogs need more time before they start. The usual (most common) reason of any spine or hips injuries of adult dogs of any breed is jumping (you see it often that the owner lift a stick and… this sort of jumps – straight up). Jumps over the barrier however is fine after the dog is at least 6 months old (breed dependent).

Avoid agility exercises required jumping of any sort that can cause occasional falls from heights until your pup is at least 6m old. I used to take my dog downstairs until they reached 5-6 months old to avoid spine issues. Climbing up is fine and good exercise.

No long runs if you are a jogger until your pup is at least 6 months old and fit for purpose. Again, breed dependent and some may need to wait longer.

Do not fall into overbearing supervision and people with “health and safety” issues.

Common sense prevails.

In summary to this topic:

If you hear any strange advice regarding your dog treatment, training or exercising, please ask your professional adviser and always apply common sense and your own knowledge of your own dog.

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From time to time, I receive calls from people asking me to train their grown up dogs to go to the toilet indoors (like cats we train).

I always say to this requests that I do not support animal cruelty.

Indeed, what is the point to get a dog if you have no time (or ability) to provide a minimum care for the animal and walk it at least twice per day?

Get a cat instead.

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Dogs have ability to create a strong connection with their owners. Dogs are so unique, they can get adapted to basically everything within a diverse human environment. But the dogs can’t do it on their own. It is a dog’s owner responsibility.

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Do not go for a cute dog.

Learn about the breed, its temper, and its health issues. Some breeds require experienced owners, they need more training, and they may simply not be for you.

Don’t fall into the cuteness of the puppy, they all are.

Be smart, responsible and thoughtful.

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I heard things about “dogs’ people” and “cats’ people” and that they fight with each other…

Let me have a smile)

I always thought that if you love animals in general, you love them all regardless.

Cats, dogs… They are different, you can’t compare them.

Dogs are mostly like extraverts, they need a company.

Cats suffer in silence. They are heroic. They do not show emotions and that they are in pain – it can put them into a vulnerable position. They hide and suffer in silence. They are intraverts. And they are capable to create strong bonds with their humans but it will not be that visible as with dogs.

Comparing these two animals is like citing – “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”