Ed Frawley’s Philosophy of Dog Training
by Ed Frawley
Training dogs is my life’s passion and work. It will end on the day I die.
There is absolutely nothing secretive or magical about training dogs. Dog training is simply the understanding of the way dogs think and interact. Dog training isn’t rocket science.
I only need to do a couple hours of research on the Internet to see who it is that lacks experience or has attained poor experience.
Dog training doesn’t have to start when you have a dog. It starts when you decide to learn how dogs think and relate to the world they live in. It begins when you decide to relate your dog in a way that your dog can respect and understand. Developing this meaningful relationship is based on trust, communication, and control.
For all my life, I have been around dogs. When I was 16, I owned a rescue dog named King. Everyday, we went on 2 or 3 walks in the woods. He was my best friend and I had trained him with hand signals and verbal commands. One day, after a walk, King started to chase a cat into the road. He would not respond to my calls to stop and come. He ran in front of a sports car and was killed.
My view on dog training has changed the way I looked dog training. I made up my mind that next time, I would learn how to properly communicate in a way that my dog would listen in every scenario.
The Three Categories of Dog Trainers
The first category is on the left. They beg, bribe, or lure their dogs to doing something by offering a food reward or toy. I use both food and toys in training but I also use distractions and corrections. The people in this first category don’t use either.
Dog will often choose not to do what’s asked because the reward is not high in value to them. They end up being pushy, dominant, and aggressive. They will turn up in animal shelters for being unmanageable when the truth is, they just weren’t trained properly.
On the far right side is the second category. They will force or intimidate their dogs to do what they want. These are the old school “yank and crank” trainers.
They put on a choke collar, forcing it to do everything. Many professional dog trainers will use these methods because time is money. It is much quicker to train a dog by forcing them to do this. You can get a dog to do almost anything this way but the bond isn’t there.
These dogs won’t like their handlers. Soft dogs will be afraid of their handlers and tuck their tails since they never know when they’ll get hurt.
Truth is, both sides bring in very inconsistent results with dogs that don’t like or respect their owner. You can’t reach consistency unless you have established a good bond and is seen as the leader of the pack.
You need to be in the middle of both categories. This category uses both motivational methods and corrections. They will move one way or the other depending on the dog training and behavior.
The third category uses motivational methods with food, toys, or praise. We like to use markers. The dog will start to learn meanings of words like “COME” and “YES” and “NO.”
As the dog comprehends these commands, distractions will be added to the training program. For example, a dog who knows the meaning of the word “DOWN” will continue to stay down until its handler gives the “RELEASE” command. The dog stays down regardless of distractions like a balling being tossed or a hotdog just 4 feet from where he is lying.
If dogs misbehave under distraction or fail to follow instructions, then you will move towards correcting its disobedience. The key is that corrections are never given unless you 110% know the dog understands what is being asked of him but simply refuses to follow it.
Dogs Can Love You But They May Not Respect You
Some pet owners don’t understand that dogs are pack animals. Truth is, dogs have the same genetic drive as wolves have. Through their DNA, wolves seek a hierarchy in their family pack. They’re looking for their rank in the pack.
A dog will look at the family they live with as a part of their pack. If the dog owner doesn’t become the leader, then the dog will step up and take the role. That’s how dogs become dominant and aggressive.
Behavioral problems occur because of lack of structure in the dog’s living environment. Obedience is only 25% of the solution. 75% of that solution is actually the pack structure.
While you dog may love you, he won’t respect you. Love and respect are two unrelated emotions.