Harry Potter Dog Training
|This article appears in the October issue of Dogs Today.|
I feel sorry for professional dog trainers.
You see, they are hired to train a dog, but the first thing they have to tell the client is that they are not going to train the dog – they are going train the client to train the dog.
When this is said, there is always a lot of smiling and nodding by the client, but there’s no real comprehension and probably not too much acceptance either.
Even the dog trainer doubts it can really be done.
You see, people are people, and they are difficult to change. When a dog or a dog trainer shows up in a person’s life, that person already has a schedule and it probably does not include 30 minutes, twice a day, of walking the dog.
Is a dog trainer going to be able to win that kind of time and exercise commitment from his or her new client?
Think about how many people start with a gym membership, and how few are still going to that gym two months later. Think how many people start a diet, and how many fall off the wagon.
When a dog trainer shows up at the door of a new client, honesty may be the best policy, but telling a client “you’re fat and lazy and so is the dog, and both of you need to walk two miles a day” may not be the best way to build up a referral dog training business!
When people hire a dog trainer, they are not looking for a change in lifestyle or a change in values.
They are looking for a magic wand.
And why not?
We live in an age of miracle diets, miracle bras, and five minute workouts to lift and tone the body.
We have instant answers from Google, satellite mapping systems in our cars, and one-minute rice on the stove.
Surely there’s a 10-minute cure for any and every canine problem?
Come on now: What would Hermione do?
Of course in the world of Harry Potter, it was not Hermione that had a way with creatures, it was the game keeper Hagrid, who was never seen to wave a magic wand.
Instead, Hagrid’s magic was of a more down-to-earth kind. He knew that the secret to training animals, from dogs to dragons, was exercise, consistency, earned affection, and simple corrections and rewards.
- When you exercise the dog every day.
- When you pay close attention to your dog and communicate consistently with it through well-timed rewards and signals.
This is not to say that there aren’t tools, and that many of them aren’t great.
Every dog catalog and magazine is packed with ads offering up various types of collars, halters, and leashes. Every bookstore is packed with dog training guides promoting clickers, hand signals, food rewards, ball rewards, scent-training, and every kind of freshly-potted canine philosophy.
But no device or method matters if the owner does not have the self-discipline to show up everyday to actively work with his or her own dog.
This is Hagrid’s secret, and it’s not one you can buy in the magic shops in Diagon Alley.
|Illustration by Kevin Brockbank for Dogs Today.|
- Previous Terrierman articles in Dogs Today:
** All At Sea at the AKC (6-2009)
** The Tribe of the Dog (7-2009)
** A Well Fed Dog is Never Fat (8-2009)
** Counterfeit Collies and Transvestite Terriers (9-2009)
** Over-vaccination is Bad Medicine (10-09)
** Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Expense & Misery (11-2009)
** The Madness of Dogs (12-2009)
** Fear of Foreign Blood (1-2010)
** The Kennel Club at the Crossroads (2-2010)
** Your Dogs are a Mess (3-2010)
** Between Two Lies, Lost Opportunity for Pit Bulls (4-2010)
** When Breeds Are Failures (5-2010)
** They Invented Animal Training (6-2010)
** What the Hell Is a Congo Terrier? (7-2010)
** The Glory of British Dogs (8-2010)
** The Super Nanny State (9-2010)
** Ten Tips to Finding the Right Dog (10-2010)
** Saving Money and Mind With a New Pup (11-2010)
** Doing Right by the Dog (12-2010)
** A Dog is Neither Shovel Nor Child (1-2011)
** Ruff Diamonds (2-2011)
** When Fairy Tales Meet Hairy Tails (3-2011)
** Carnival Barkers at the Dog Shows (4-2011)
** The Jack Russell: A History With a Warning (5-2011)
** Working Terriers at the Tar Pit (6-2011)
** Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise (7-2011)
** Sick Puppies and Broken Dogs (8-2011)
** Knowing What NOT to Do in a Dog Fight (9-2011)
** Harry Potter Dog Training (10-2011)
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