That last post can likely leave you feeling as if we are not being fair to our dogs. Hopefully inspiring questions about all training philosophies. Take these with a grain of salt. Each side of the spectrum has pros and cons and balanced training that uses both is not perfect either. So how should we be with our dogs? What does a well trained dog with a good relationship at the foundation look like?
For many working in the dog profession we talk about our "heart dog". This is typically the dog that motivated us into a career working with canines. It's the dog that we had such a deep bond with that nothing can replace it. When we were with our "heart dog" we were acting as one, extensions of each other, working together. These "heart dogs" were not typically our best trained dogs. They were the ones we had the deepest relationship with. We respected our dog, our dog trusted us almost without question.
How do you train that? The short answer is that you don't. However this relationship is the reason dogs are in our homes and in our hearts. The past few decades we, yes WE, the humans have damaged this relationship. As a society we no longer respect dogs. They have become fur babies and severed as a replacement for our relationship with other people. These are not roles that leave space for us to have respect for what our dog needs, their breed, their heritage, and the truth that dogs are predators which have domesticated to work along side us.
The beautiful Siberian husky does not deserve to live in an apartment in Florida. This shows us putting our opinion of how a dog looks cute over the dog's needs. We have taken a cold climate dog built for long days of running and hauling a sled. Have you ever watched a sled dog run and pull a sled working alongside a team and their musher? The joy and satisfaction they recieve in their work is visible even to someone who does not own a dog. How about the pointer naturally pointing and lifting that leg up to show you where the game they're bred to help us hunt? The Belgian Malinois taking down the suspect or decoy. Nothing gives dogs better joy then filling the role we genetically selected for and bred into.
I do not want to say that if you have a dog and it is not in it's natural working field that you are automatically going to have an unsatisfied dog. It will be much more challenging to fulfill their needs. You have to have and show respect for your dog before they will be able to trust you. Not all dogs need heavy jobs to do. There are plenty of dogs happy to sleep on the couch and go for walks around the neighborhood. We have bred some breeds to the point they can not even reproduce without using artificial insemination and c-sections.
There is no training philosophy for building a relationship with your dog. This relationship is as variable as a relationship with another person. Our dogs are extremely intelligent, some motivated less than others, and dogs are better at reading us than we are.
The core of achieving a great relationship with your dog and being able to learn how to train with your dog to fulfill them and meet the needs we have of our dog is simple. Respect your dog, honor them, their breed, their strength and weaknesses, and be fair. Through this concepts we can establish a relationship where our dog trusts us. They trust us to keep them safe, fulfill their needs physically, emotionally, and mentally. Then you will have what you are looking for. This relationship is critical and fragile and magical.