Saturday, 18 September 2021
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Don’t train your dog to sit – teach it life skills, pet mindfulness coach says

Dogs should be taught life skills rather than simply how to sit, stay and hand over their paws, a pet mindfulness coach has said.

Carolyn Menteith, a leading dog behavioural expert, said dog owners should lose their obsession with teaching traditional obedience exercises and instead focus on the skills the pet innately has.

“It doesn’t matter if your dog sits the moment you say sit if it goes and rips up the curtains and knocks over granny,” she said.

“We should be teaching life skills instead of behaviour commands – how to settle when people are watching television and how to enjoy being handled.”

Ms Menteith, who was the trainer for the Crufts 2018 Channel Four programmes and won the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor of the Year award three years previously, said training should be about building a relationship with the animal, rather than teaching it various tricks.

“It doesn’t matter so much whether a dog does obedience exercises – like a dog walking perfectly to heel – we need a dog to be happy and fun with our family,” she said.

Ms Menteith was the trainer for the Crufts 2018 Channel Four programmes 

Ms Menteith was the trainer for the Crufts 2018 Channel Four programmes 

Tom Pilston for the Telegraph

While in the past dog training relied on a formal technique based on military training, attitudes towards animals have softened as pets are growingly viewed as members of the family. Due to this, the trainer argues, owners should adopt a mindful and holistic approach to dog training, similar to how children are parented.

“We don’t want children to sit down be quiet and be seen and not heard – we want them to be the best people they can possibly be working on their strengths,” she added. “It should be the same with dogs – we want a relationship not a dictatorship, to look at what they are already good at doing and work with those strengths.”

As a result owners should build relationships with their domestic animals rather than focusing on teaching them commands.

The trainer added: “It’s not about barking sit and expecting unswerving obedience. It’s about building a relationship.

“It’s looking at the individual dog you have – each dog has a different personality and in the same way we look at different relationships with people in our lives, you have to build one with your dog.”

The Dogs Trust recommends that new dogs are taken to local training courses, to learn traditional commands and meet other dogs.

The charity says on its website: “Training your puppy should start straight away to avoid him developing bad habits. Teach him what is acceptable. Make clear and simple commands and show him what you want

him to do. Lessons should be short and at regular intervals. Remember – always reward good behaviour, and ignore ‘bad’ behaviour.”


The Bark Box

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