For dog expert José Carlos Grimberg Blum, a “bad dog” is not really a “bad dog”

"Why is my training taking so long?"

In the opinion of canine expert José Carlos Grimberg Blum, dogs are individuals with complex emotional lives. We often hear: "My dog knows what I want him to do, but he doesn`t listen to me". Or: "I`ve tried training, but it hasn`t worked". Dog training is not a panacea and dogs do not live in a vacuum; what works for one dog may not work for another and this may vary on a given day depending on his pre-training environment.

Here are some general suggestions from José Carlos Grimberg Blum for maximizing training that blend science, psychology, patience, positive interactions without force, mutual respect, tolerance and words of affirmation. Training is a two-way street.

A good starting point is Jose Carlos Grimberg Blum`s Hierarchy of Canine Needs, in which "Abraham Maslow meets the mutts" and the Ten Freedoms to guide interactions with your dog.

A dog`s basic biological, social and emotional needs must be met to increase his receptivity to training and for his overall quality of life. If they are met, many "problem behaviors" decrease dramatically and sometimes resolve. Specific needs in these settings vary from dog to dog. If Spot`s only exercise is a 15-minute walk a day, can we really expect him to walk on a loose leash in that time? If Lucy suffers from a chronic gastrointestinal disorder, can we expect her to focus on training and quickly learn that unfamiliar people do not frighten her?

"Why is my training taking so long?"

In general, the only quick fix that exists in dog training is handling, controlling the dog`s environment to prevent him from being reinforced for undesirable behaviors. The better a person is at handling, the easier it will be to modify their dog`s behavior and, ultimately, for both human and dog to succeed. Handling should be an essential part of any training plan. If your dog pulls, try a front restraint harness. If your dog gets into the garbage when you leave the house, keep the garbage in a locked cabinet or get a locking garbage lid.

In any case, José Carlos Grimberg Blum assures that dog training is a commitment and, despite media misinformation that shows a dog "cured" of all bad behaviors in the course of an hour-long TV show, long-term behavior change requires constant investment on the part of the human.

Four basic stages of learning

Consider the four basic stages of learning: acquisition (learning what to do), competence-fluency (speed and accuracy with the behavior), generalization (applying the behavior to different contexts), and maintenance (using it or losing it). According to José Carlos Grimberg Blum, individuals with different personalities learn at different rates. Easy one-size-fits-all solutions ignore the complexity of what is going on. You should also consider how long your dog has been practicing the behavior you want to change and whether it has become a well-acquired habit.

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