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Leerburg Dog Training Blog

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

Well, what are we doing here?!

I often think about the evolution of dog training. When I began it was about compulsion. How much or how little. Food to entice a dog was, well, frowned upon. I went to classes and traveled, mostly to see technique on how much pressure you could put on a dog to make it perform. I searched all over for answers, since my critters mostly sucked. I had an epiphany when, in talking to an SV Judge on day about what I wanted in a dog based on the use of compulsion, he told me I needed a stupid dog with a good temperament. Well what was that? and did I want such a dog.

I started to rethink what all the old school guys had taught me. It took experimentation, education, and experience to get me to a point that I would try an induce approach to training working dogs. Interesting result! I had dogs that learned well but could not tolerate pressure! Now fast forward a few more years and the PC social media police are hard at condemning the use of pressure in dog training.

Well, surprise! dogs are creatures designed to work through some degree of pressure. Genetics, evolution, social structures, all tell us that this is a fact. What is also a fact is that if a I want to teach a dog a skill, that pressure is the least effective way of teaching any activity that I want to promote (note here that I am saying any activity I want ot promote, as pressure is a great way to stop activity I want to suppress!).

This really bothers the PC canine internet trainers (those that type a lot about training and really haven’t a clue about having to get a driven working dog to fall into standard and get the job done). I had a discussion with a individual who felt that old school (defined as those that use and understand compulsion) were stupid, uneducated, cruel, human beings.

I have been working a couple of dogs these days that defy a pressure less existence. One, can learn well without force but cannot not try to stop hurting the person doing the training. The other, interested in training through inducements….well until it decides that it has other things to do. Both dogs would get no where in the work without a degree of pressure, in fact one of them would find a grave in its near future without pressure. The other would fail in its tasks miserably.

So, my conclusion. The working dog is build to handle pressure. It is necessary in balance with inducements to obtain balance in the dog in modern society. Anything less is a disrespect for the dog and irresponsible on the part of the owner/handler.


  1. Avatar
    Annie Schneider
    August 15, 2017

    This clarity in support of balance is helpful. The difference in behaviors I look to promote and those I want to suppress helps my thinking. A recent experience and it’s successful outcome calling my dog off of a turkey comes immediately to mind. Thank you Mr. Sheldahl.

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