Question: What’s the best training method for you and your dog?
Answer: The one that works!
I’ve lost track of the number of training books, videos, and how-to seminars I studied while writing the Waterside Kennels mystery series and this blog. In addition to ensuring authentic details are added to the plots, I found many of those resources personally helpful when Sasha joined our household after having been rescued from a bad situation. I relied on those resources to find a “just right” training program that would build her confidence and help overcome her fear of men and extreme aversion to noise.
It didn’t take long to realize that typical training methods were not always the best choice for her. While Sasha quickly mastered the commands taught in beginner and intermediate obedience classes, the clicker training method was an ordeal for her. Since our local training facility uses clickers as the foundation for all their classes, I chose not to pursue additional training there. Instead, I adopted a DIY approach that focuses on improving everyday behavior through positive reinforcement and situational awareness. Along the way, I discovered a few simple commands that work for us: “take it,” “leave it,” “drop it,” and “watch me.”
Those commands make an appearance in Dangerous Deeds (currently in the editing pipeline) where my protagonist Maggie Porter includes them as part of her “Good Dog” training sessions. They’re also used elsewhere in the book–including one memorable scene where Maggie’s dog Sweet Pea finds an injured kitten beneath the dock. Unlike training classes with a structured curriculum, Maggie’s “Good Dog” sessions are customized to address specific behaviors. (As both a writer and a dog owner, I personally like the flexibility this sort of training format offers.)
If you’d like to learn more about these commands to use with your own dog, here’s a list of helpful articles to get you started:
https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/learning-the-leave-it-command/ (includes “take it” command too)
https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teaching-your-dog-to-drop-it/ (great for trick training as well)
And my personal favorite I use whenever Sasha and I are walking and she’s triggered by other dogs approaching: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/watch-me-command-grab-dogs-attention/
Prefer watching videos? Drop by YouTube and search for any or all of these commands. And remember: learning new commands can be hard work for both you and your dog. Be patient, and include some fun activities along the way. The results will be worth it!