We are bombarded with catchy Y-generation marketing terms daily. Warned with subtle threats to use products that are bio-degradable, green, organic, all natural and holistic; or else! But, what do these terms mean when applied to an old fashioned service like dog training? I will define holistic dog training. Then, you make up your own mind if you think holistic dog training is necessary.
First, what defines holistic?
Webster defines holistic as: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather that with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts. It defines holistic medicine as the treatment of both the mind and the body. Holistic ecology is explained as viewing humans and the environment as a single system. I like this definition. It serves well in the explanation of holistic dog training.
Dog training traditionally has been viewed as teaching a dog to obey commands. Older trainers follow correctional methods that originated with the military during World War II. Newer trainers follow positive reinforcement methods encouraged as a result of animal behavior studies over the last two decades. Though I prescribe to the later, both are simply methods used to achieve the same result; teaching a dog to obey commands. This is not holistic dog training. Obedience training can be a part of holistic dog training but obedience training does not define holistic dog training.
Holistic dog training is considering everything affecting or relating to the behavior of the dog when teaching skills or resolving problems. To practice holistic dog training a trainer must consider the system the dog is a part of. That system includes; the dog, humans in the household and the physical environment. The dog includes the dogs; breed, age, health, temperament and previous learned behaviors. A human in the household includes the number of humans; ages, health, personality, expectations and knowledge level of dog behavior. Physical environment includes; number of pets, number of humans, pet friendly or unfriendly conditions and household activity level. And more importantly, holistic dog training includes the relationship of each of these considerations to each of the others.
Is holistic dog training necessary?
Reading dog training articles can be helpful to some. Watching dog training videos can be helpful to others. But, we all know someone that these abundantly available free resources did not help. Why?
Popular dog training shows blame the dog owner. Either you are using the wrong method or you haven’t mastered the art of projecting calm assertive energy! Dog owners that used to blame their dogs are now blaming themselves. Again, why?
Because articles, videos and the genius of television (or dare I say, the geniuses on television) are not giving you the whole (holistic dog training) picture. It is general information out of context. The correct context is the temperament of your dog, the busy complicated routine of your life and the unique details of your household. Every dog, every dog owner and every household are different. Considering this means that every dog training situation will be different. The same dog training methods can be applied to different situations with different results. You can follow a specific set of directions and still fail to achieve the results you desire. If you fail enough you give up.
I am a holistic dog trainer. I love what I do. It is fun, rewarding and difficult. Holistic dog training requires knowledge of learning theory, animal behavior, human nature, communication and common sense. You do not learn holistic dog training without lots of practice, with both dogs and humans, where sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail. My objective is not just to get a dog to obey commands. My goal as a holistic dog trainer is to teach my clients how to raise their dogs to be well adjusted members of the family. I work out the exact details of what this means to each different client as we go through the process of achieving this goal. I succeed when my client is happy with the results.
Weather you read articles, watch videos or hire for pay; you will cast your vote for the type of dog training you think is necessary by the dog trainer you follow. If you just want your dog to obey commands then holistic dog training may not be for you. But, if your goal is to raise a healthy well adjusted dog as a companion member of your family then holistic dog training is what you need.
Read all The Dog Lady’s articles; you’ll learn!