Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Great Post On Training, By Andre From When Hounds Fly

Why the Term "Trained Dog" is Outdated

Sometimes I get calls from people saying they want their dog to "be trained".  I don't think "trained" is a state of being - you can have a neutered dog, but to have a "trained dog" is an antiquated term - they are always learning and we should always be teaching.  Back in the 1950s when dog trainers used choke chains and leash corrections to train, I could understand why once a dog knew the basic sit, down, stay, heel, come, you wouldn't want to continue subjecting your dog to pain - the dog was good enough, so you stopped, and could say you had a "trained dog".  Today, however, if you train using force-free, science-based methods (such as clicker training), training should be something you AND your dog want to do every day.  So, this article is all about inspiring you with just a FEW of the many NEW activities that is possible for both you and your dog to enjoy... (along with dozens of old favorites like Agility, Flyball, Disc Dog, etc.)


Treibball is one of the newest dog sports, recently imported from Germany.  Treibball is great for any dog, but especially herding dogs, as it requires them to take directional cues from the handler to herd a cluster of large exercise balls past goal posts into a pen.  This is a great option for urbanites with herding dogs that can't make it to a herding trial!  Check out this video:

Canine Freestyle

Canine freestyle is another "modern" dog sport.  It combines elements of obedience (primarily heelwork), tricks, and dance, calling for the handler and dog to perform a choreographed routine to music.

Rally Obedience

Rally obedience is a combination of traditional obedience and agility.  Unlike traditional obedience, the handler is allowed to talk to and encourage the dog while the dog performs traditional behaviors like heel, finish, front, sit, down, and stand. More advanced rally obedience courses incorporate elements from agility such as jumps and weave poles.  

How Do I Get Started?  I Taught My Dog Knows Sit, Down, and Come, But That's All

Any "average" dog is a lot closer to doing basic versions of the sports shown in the above videos.  Often times, my new students feel like their dogs are lightyears away from doing anything worth putting on YouTube - and just a few months after they finish a basic obedience class, they're taking videos of their dogs putting their toys away, or doing fun tricks like play dead.  That's where it all starts - having you and your dog learn to LOVE the process of teaching and learning new behaviors.  The only way you and your dog will develop a love of training is if it doesn't involve force, intimidation, or coercion.  So, if you're eager to get started - look for a dog training school that says NO to choke chains, leash corrections, or physical coercion, and YES to using food, toys, praise, and fun to train your dog and begin your journey today.

Andre Yeu, head trainer and owner of When Hounds Fly! is proud to be Toronto's first Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP). When Hounds Fly! ( is conveniently located in Downtown Toronto West, and offers puppy socialization, basic obedience, rally obedience, tricks classes, and private lessons to dog owners in our community.


  1. If you bring your dog to me I will Guarantee that your dog will be 100% Trained in Basic Obedience,and once Trained,your dog never forgets the training.Its like riding a bike.If any Professional Trainer evaluates a dog Trained by me,they will perform perfect 5,10 years later like it was yesterday.Only dogs that are 20 or 60% Basic obedience Trained will remain that way or regress.Once your dog is trained you will have a means to get your dogs 100% attention no matter where you are,what time it is,or how many distractions there are,and with proper equipment,you will have a natural means of reminding and punishment to avoid dog aggression and other problems from happening and of course the dog owner will be educated enough to know not to pet the dog and tell him its OK etc...Don't believe everything you read.Dog Training is not a regulated industry and there are many people giving bad information.People still use Choke Chains and no food today not just the 50's,and no you can't train killer whales on a leash.The Pryer methods were develouped in the 60's,and is now recently being hyped like it is something new.There are many Trainers and methods.Good ones and bad ones,effective and inefective ones.With me, you will never hear the words,Sorry your dog cannot be Trained,and my dogs and many other non neutered,spayed dogs do not need to be breed and listen excellent.Don't expect a veterinarian to tell you that.there is no money in it.

  2. A good trainer doesn't boast about how good he is and how perfect his dogs are. A good trainer gives clients useful (and safe) tools and boasts about how far THEY have come in continuing training their dogs.

    Nobody argues that force-based methods work. They do. The beef we have with these methods is WHY they work.

    Training is something you do WITH your dog, not TO your dog.

  3. Wow, sounds to me like Tom's the one who thinks there's only one way to train a dog. Thanks Andre for a great article:) I'd rather have a dog that trusts me and loves the work than a dog that's scared to make a mistake any day!

  4. No one can guarantee a %100 trained dog unless you are with your client 24/7 and can control the situation and environment %100 of the time. What you want to ask yourself is whether you want a relationship based on fear or one based on trust. You can have a well trained dog with either version. I much prefer to have my dog trust that I won't scare the sh** out of him to get him to sit.

  5. Honestly, I think it's a little rude to push one's own training business in the comments of another trainer's blog.

    There are two ways to motivate a dog: The dog can work for something they want, or they can work to avoid something unpleasant/scary/painful. A "reminder" is a threat of those things ("do it or else"), in trainer-talk they are conditioned aversives. The dog experiences the same emotional response as if the actual aversive was applied.

    Which method do you think will make for a happy dog that wants to work and interact with it's handler?

    In the words of Pat Miller, "I'd rather have a cookie in my pocket than a chain around my dogs neck."

  6. The point of the article is... training never ends now because training is fun. I can't think of many people that think using a choke chain is fun. Clicker training is not new, but it is newer, and since it hit the dog training world in the 80s, even trainers that come from a traditional punishment background are incorporating it in their training (Competitive Obedience, Schutzhund, MondioRing, Protection, etc.) And the point of this article - sports like Treiball and Canine Freestyle were born from force-free training.

    If all that was out there was a choke chain, I'd stop training as soon as my dog new the basics. Now I WANT to train my dog every day, and have him learn something new every day, because it's just so damn fun.

  7. Hi Andre I must say I agree, but unfortunately I am definitely one the owner's who simply "stops training", in that both my pooches, 9 and 10, know all the basics (heel, sit, stay, etc) but now it seems through what your saying as though I'm not providing enough mental stimuli for them. Can you recommend any activities for "older", trained dogs who already know the basics quite well?

  8. For dogs in their older years (9 and 10 are hardly geriatric, but definitely slowing down) I would suggest low impact, low cardio type activities. So agility is probably out of the question. But how about just teaching a few simple tricks like shake a paw, wave/hi-5, play dead (check Youtube for a ton of instructional videos) or even just practicing sit, stay, down, come regularly and using food or a toy as a reward for a job well done!

    At a dinner party recently, a friend remarked to me that they taught their 14 year old bichon to roll over! It's never too late to have fun with your dog.

  9. I'm gonna try roll over with to follow. Thanks Andre.

  10. Admin: If you're in Toronto, Andre has a fabulous Tricks class you could attend with your dogs!! I adopted an 8 y/o dog last summer, and I'm doing everything with her that I would with a younger dog, and she is picking it up just as fast. I do watch her for and soreness (she's a little stiff getting out of bed), but it hasn't slowed her down in the least. That is, with the exception of her handstand trick that I think she can't do because her back is a little twitchy some days so she can't physically 'lift' her back end up off the ground... but a handstand won't make-or-break her, so that's fine by me! I plan on trialling her in Rally Obedience this summer.
    Have fun with your dogs!