The first time I was presented with the concept it was from Kathy Sdao at Clicker Expo in 2007 and it was eye opening. To better explain what Organic Dog Training is, let’s start first start with what organic farming is.
Organic farming is defined as an “…integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity whilst, with rare exceptions, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth hormones.” I would even take this definition of organic farming a step further. The organic farmers that I know strive for food that is packed with vitamins and minerals, want to enhance the health of the soil, earth, their bodies, and of the world at large. Organic farming is not just a process through with food is grown, it is also philosophy about how to live healthfully and mindfully.
Organic Dog Training is a system that strives for sustainability, a fertile mind and diversity of behavior. As organic dog trainers we avoid overly harsh training methods. We use training tools like shock collars and prong collars extremely mindfully- if at all. Adverse training tools are like synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that kill the soil, these tools run the risk of suppress learning and eroding a dogs desire to try new things. Organic dog trainers are mindful about motivation, as we are always searching for ways to motivate our dogs to work to obtain desirable things, and only use our dogs desire to avoid unpleasant things when absolutely needed.
As organic dog trainers we look for what our dogs are doing well and pay them for a job well done. We maintain focus on creating an environment in which they can be successful. As humans we have all had that job where the deck was seemingly stacked against our success. These environments are oppressive and feel like you are working in the shadow of failure. Is this what we want for our dogs? We also want to strive for consistency. If we a correction is required, we need to make sure we’re fair and consistent. You’re dog has a correction for jumping today, but tomorrow you smooch them between the eyes and recite a sonnet about how wonderful they are- this isn’t fair. this is the human equivalent to an office that has a rule against cell phone use, but texting is ubiquitous. Then after 3 months on the job, and texting only occasionally, you’re written up for breaking the rules.
This is why organic dog training has the power to change lives. Organic dog training demands you focus on the good things. It demands mindfulness, thoughtful planning, and creative management. Organic dog trainers don’t throw their dogs into the deep end of the pool only to watch them struggle; we plan in such a way we are almost certain of success and then we pay our dogs for their cleverness. If they do make a mistake, we correct fairly and consistently. Our dogs always know the rules and are confident in their leaders.
I’m so happy for my clients and colleges that strive to train compassionately, and are ever evolving. Dog training is a journey, not a destination.
Train compassionately, train fairly, pay your dog for a job well done!