Saturday, December 19, 2009

Further on Ad Hoc Training of Ridgebacks

In regard to my previous note, I had in mind, for example, the critical times when a dog isn't trained but is still strong.  Many trainers don't recommend formal training until a dog is over 6 months.  Trooper was a very powerful dog at that age.  I was referring to the critical times when an owner has to "overpower" her dog in some way – either through a tug-of-war at one end of a leash or over something else.  If you know those times are coming, and especially if you are new to the game, you will have less trouble with a medium-sized breed than you will a large breed like a Ridgeback. 

Also, why have the determinative factor be the training?  Why not choose the dog that is most suitable to you and your situation and have that be the chief determining factor?  I'm reminded of my father-in-law who was very much into training.  He trained horses and trained his dogs the same way.  His last dog, a Rottweiler named Rommel was highly trained.  He often said that he could take any dog from any breed and train it the same way he trained Rommel.  "But why would you want to," I asked on more than one occasion?  For him there was a "right way" and a "wrong way" for training any breed, and he knew the right way.  We had many an argument.  Hiking?  He never hiked.  If you went up into the mountains, you needed a horse.  Jogging?  He never jogged either.  To say "it depends" didn't mean anything to him.

Consider a new owner.  She isn't going to "know" in advance that she has the resources to take a dog through a long-term training regimen.  I suspect that most people are buying their first dog on "hope" rather than on "absolute knowledge."  And it is helpful to know that some breeds are more forgiving to such owners than others.  Also, sex matters.  Female Amstaffs, for example, will be easier on a new owner than males.  That isn't true of Irish Terrier's from what I've heard, but it is of some breeds. 

One other question is to ask what the "norm" has been in human-canine relations for the (perhaps) 140,000 years of their association?  I can promise you it wasn't formal dog training classes.  And yet despite not having those classes, they (humans and canines) somehow worked it out.  In areas like San Jacinto that could still be true – and probably is.  In that new thing in the world, the "big city," that may no longer be true – it probably isn't.


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