Looking at the Value of Permission Based Training

Who's in Charge Here?

There are some things I learned after the fact with my dogs that I learned the hard way. So often, we are always playing catch up with our dogs. Their negative behaviors spiral out of control and we don't realize it until it becomes a problem. Sound familiar? But what if we could get ahead of these bad behaviors? 

Eric got me drinking the dog training kool-aid, and looking at a few different trainers and their training philosophies. I came across an article by Sean O'Shea, and his company The Good Dog. In their article they addressed permission based dog training and why it works. I immediately thought to myself "yes! this is the relationship I want with my dog!".  I don't want them thinking the world is theirs for the taking unless I tell them to "Leave it", "No", or "Get off the Couch". I want to be able to trust my dog to do the right thing, but learning more about permission based training also made me realize that trust is earned. 

Follow the Leader

What makes a great leader? Great leaders are engaging and trustworthy. Great leaders not only lead by example, but by the way they communicate to their team. It's not always sunshine and rainbows, but it is in the team's best interest. 

Dog Training and Sports

As an athlete and coach, I know the value of having a good leader for a team. It was drilled in our heads that our coach had our best interest at heart, even if we didn't want to hear what was being said. Even if we didn't want to hear that we were wrong. Growth comes from those corrections, a strong team comes from those corrections. Again and again, I realize that dog training and coaching sports are extremely similar. My coaches were there for me as a support system. John Wooden is one of my favorite coaches I've read about because of the way he treated his players. 

John Wooden

From The Essential Wooden with Steve Jamison

“How does a leader create trust? Here’s how: Do the things you should do and that those under your leadership have a right to expect from you. Show confidence in their ability to reach their potential. Help them overcome mistakes by getting to the core reason for errors or misjudgments without seeking to blame, condemn or punish. Show those under your supervision that you believe they can succeed. Be fair. Be trusting. In short, be the kind of leader whose team you’d like to be a member of.

There's More To It Than Simply Showing Up

Great leaders earn your trust through reliability, being there, and being present. Imagine if you played a sport and your coach came to practice, yet was on their phone texting the whole time, not actually engaging or even watching in the practice? Now think about taking your dog for a walk and texting or being on the phone the whole time. It's the same concept, the leader isn't being present. In order to grow, feedback is needed. We need to give our dogs that feedback in a timely fashion and we can't do that if we are disengaged from them.

Timing is Essential

The timing of that feedback is crucial especially since dogs don't speak English. We can't correct a behavior after the fact and expect them to know what it was for. This is why rubbing a dog's nose in their pee is NOT a good training philosophy, how are they supposed to know it was for peeing on the carpet this afternoon.

How Do We Communicate Effectively?

At K9 Heights we believe we need to do four things in order to communicate effectively with our dogs in order for them to understand the behaviors we are shaping and maintaining. If our communications with our dogs fall short of these in any areas, you are going to struggle to succeed with your dog. We want corrections and cues for our dog to be:

  • Consistent
  • Engaging
  • Meaningful
  • Timely

Playing Simon Says
Who's the Leader of Your Team?

Do you get your cues from your dog's impulses or does your dog respond to your cues?

Permission based training means having the dog engage with us to get the reward the want. It's important as a leader we earn their trust so that they find value in looking to us instead of gaining value from reacting impulsively to their environment. In dog training we want to be consistent. We want to teach our dogs that A+B=C, all the time. Math is strict. 2+2 always equals 4. When approaching a door we want them to associate, if I offer Behavior A), sit, and Behavior B), Wait and look at the handler, then outcome c), I can go outside. Why don't we make the changes in our habits to cue our dog that Behavior A+ Behavior B always equals outcome C?  

John Wooden

  • “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”

Training Areas that Benefit from Permission Based Training

  • Crates (In and Out)
  • Thresholds (Doorway)
  • Food on the Ground
  • Invitations onto Furniture
  • paw
    Attention and Affection (Jumping on people) 

Consistency is key. Dog training is not something that we do half way, or some of the time. Once you introduce a behavior and expectation, we need to remain true to it. It may seem like you are being strict, but your instilling valuable behaviors to your dog. You wouldn't want your child to disappear and go to their friends house without asking. Why would you want your dog to bolt over to a "friend" while on a walk without asking?  

Having your dog consistently wait for your permission can seem like a daunting thought. You may wonder if it's really necessary, but what if your permission prevents your dog from eating something toxic on the ground, or running out of the house and directly into the street, or pulling you off your feet to greet an unfriendly dog? What if they knock over a small child or elderly family member and hurt them because the dog is jumping like a lunatic when company comes over? Permission based training can help keep people safe, and your pet out of the vet's office. 

 That's why you have K9 Heights. We want to teach you how to make the changes on your end of the leash in order to establish behaviors with your dog that don't have you playing catch up and avoiding creating any more bad habits. 

Holly is K9 Heights Marketing and Administrative Coordinator, USA Archery 2017 National Women's coach of the year, and was a competitive archer who trained for the 2012 Olympics. When her health no longer allowed her to compete she was introduced to K9 Heights because she needed a service dog. Since being paired with Nissu, Holly and Nissu have grown as a team. While working with K9 Heights as a client, Holly learned so much, and quickly realized K9 Heights training philosophy aligned with much of her own coaching philosophy. After seeing the impact that having a well trained dog had on a persons life first hand, it led Holly to want to be more involved with our program and help other people create those meaningful relationships with their dog too.

2 responses to “Permission Based Training Philosophy: Play Simon Says with Your Pup

Posted by Alanna Scott

Excellent blog! The video really gives a more personal and relatable experience. The content was very informative. I cant wait for the next one!

Posted on August 30, 2018 at 2:59 PM

Posted by Holly Stover

Thanks for the feedback, Alanna! We’re trying to make training less intimidating and overwhelming, small things can make a big difference. Sometimes the trick is just knowing where to start!

Posted on August 30, 2018 at 3:36 PM

Comments are closed.

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