Chantal's Pet & Home sitting
In Willow's Memory

Chantal's blog

Chantal is a Certified Canine Obedience Trainer-Instructor, Pet Behaviourist, Reiki Master-Instructor and have a long experience working with difficult dogs. She is owner/operator at Domtom Services and Chantal’s Pet & Home Sitting since 2001

What is a balance dog trainer?

As a dog trainer and behaviourist I read a lot, watch different TV shows, and try to get informed on new technics and trends in the field of dog training. 

One of the most important changes in the last 20 years was to go from an exclusively dominant type of training, to a softer and sometimes even non-verbal training (clicker). Unfortunately with changes come all the politic. Now we reached a point where people are humanizing their pets so much that there is no respect of their natural individuality. I am the first one to talk to my dogs and use silly names for them and treat them like part of the family. This being said I do also understand that they are not human and will never be. They cannot understand all I am saying, they love the attention and would respond with funny faces or even by smiling. Yes dogs do smile, not all of them but some do and it is a real treat to see one smiling of joy 

My point today is to put things into perspective. Evolution is a natural process, humans evolve around the landscape that surrounds them and animals do the same. When the city invade their territory they will adapt and learn to live a different way. This does not mean that they loose completely their nature; they just take advantage of, or suffer from the new situation

We know that humans from the 12th century were not the same as we are now, but the fundamentals of what make mankind human stayed the same. We still live in a way where we have leaders and followers; we still have rich people and poor people. We still have people that envy others, we still love and hate, and we are supposed to be the most evolved of all animals. So based on this why less evolved being would change so drastically that all the natural instincts will disappear in just a few years?

What I am getting at; is that believing that dogs are now so tame and dependent to us that they will never return to their natural instinct is ludicrous and dangerous. I do not pretend to be a scientist and to know everything there is to know about dogs and pets in general, but I spent the last 50 years studying horses, dogs and cats behaviour. All three animals are different in shape and in nature. And if you take any of these animals away from their life with humans, they will return to their basic instincts in no time. 

A lot of our city dogs are coming from specific breeding and because it makes life easier a lot of backyard breeders would use a tame animal that will breed another tame one, resulting in a doubling up good temperament. I am talking about backyard breeders, as most of the pet population today is still coming from no paper or crossbreed. The purebred with showing background is a smallest part of the pet population. Do not take me wrong, I do not say that backyard breeders are bad, but they first of all are looking to make a little money without having to do much. But this is not the point right now anyway. 

So with a population of very tame dogs, why do we get dogs that are unruly, barks and lunge at everything that is moving? Often it is due to a lack of socialization at a young age, but more and more I see dogs in my business that are not exercised enough, that have been through training classes with flying colours and suddenly are showing unwanted behaviours. Maybe we should ask ourselves why? We take for granted that once the classes are finished the dog is done learning and does not need to be remind what are the rules. Most of our pets go to puppy classes and sometimes even to obedience training 1 and 2 and by the time they are 12-14 months or younger the all process is done and dealt with

At that time they are just coming to teen age and we all know what teenage time brings. It is a time when the main changes occur in our brain and body the dogs also mature at that time. Not all the rebellious teenagers become delinquents the same can be said for dogs too. The majority will mature into nice and quiet companions. But some of them will not, and here comes trouble because with the new trend in believing that dogs are not anymore driven by their pack position it can be dangerous. Dogs still have their dominant instinct, just like humans have and just like in humans not many are real leaders and most are followers, but a leader that cannot explore its true nature is frustrated and the frustration grows every day. Being a leader in dogs does not mean that the pack leader is dominant and violent. He or she is stable have no need for aggression to prove his/her position and can get respect just by changing the way he/she holds the whole body. 

Body language in dogs is very important and we will discuss it another time, but look at Bailey’s attitude when meeting with other dogs and watch their way of communicating.

Being a leader in the wild is not just having a strong and powerful body that can protect the pack, if you look carefully you will see it is not always the case. But it is also being stable, not letting the puppies and youngsters being unruly. Being a leader is being able to find the right place to sleep, to play, to hunt or just relax in peace. 

Being a leader in urban life is completely different as we assume that our dog should understand that we are the natural “boss” and they have to live by our rules, they have been raised to be followers for centuries. More and more people want to deny the fact that dogs are related to wolves, even if it has been proven genetically. And if they accept that fact reluctantly then they will argue that a wild animal has nothing to do with our domesticated dogs. The studies on which we base our knowledge of the pack environment was conducted long time ago and with wolf packs in captivity. How can that be relevant? I do agree that some of the studies were maybe not as relevant as we thought. The animals were placed together and the packs not naturally formed. Well, here you have your answer, we do impose to our dogs to live by our rules, we choose them, choose where they will be walking, where they will be sleeping and when and where they will meet other people and dogs. So at the end the studies were not as far away from reality.

But lets assume for a moment that evolution in dog behaviour was so drastic in the last 40 years that now they lost their survival instinct and with it their natural way of living. Then how do you explain that if dogs are left without humans to take care of them they return in no time to their basic instincts? 

So what should be considered balance training? When we take in consideration all the needs and desires of the dogs? Or for what is convenient for us?

A balance trainer/behaviourist is someone that know when to use a stronger hand and when to reward. A balance trainer is someone that does not think that dogs are machines that will repeat the same things time after time, but believes that pets can also have a bad day. A balance trainer is someone that can recognize a leader from a follower and understand the difference between the two. A balance trainer is someone that gives a choice: do right or do wrong, and show what is expected. A balance trainer is someone that can understand the basic instinct of an animal and make it a powerful teaching tool. We have so many distinctive breeds that were created for our needs and pleasure, why not use their natural instinct to teach them how to behave at home and in the world. A dog with a huge prey drive can be tone down; you can re-focus the energy on something else that will keep it under control. You cannot just erase it from their mind by breaking the spirit of the animal. Most of our dogs want to please us, we can teach them many different things. They want to be with us, share every minute with us, which is why they accept many situations that are not always good for them. As long as you give them a little bit of love they will love you back. But they need discipline to learn how to behave around us and we need to teach them. Dogs, like kids, do not come pre-programmed on good behaviour.

But first of all a balance trainer is someone that can also read the pet’s owner, that is capable to demonstrate what in the behaviour is due to lack of discipline or by lack of understanding of the specific pet’s individuality. A balance trainer is someone that can repair the communication between a pet and it’s owner(s). A balance trainer is someone that will use the right tool at the right moment. A balance trainer is someone that learns from the past and adapts the teaching/learning technics to the future.

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