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Old 11-17-2012, 12:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The merits of informal training

I've been thinking about this, how much canine behavior is shaped just through day-to-day living together. Not through formal obedience and training classes, not intentional training ... but training that happens without us really even being aware of how we're doing it and without really trying to.

My golden retriever is 12 years old. She went through a couple of basic training classes when she was a puppy, up til her first year. All the other training she's received has just been the informal day-to-day training. She is so well behaved. She listens to me, we're like an old married couple now, seriously. I tell her to do something and she does, tell her not to do it and she stops, tell her to move, get down, leave it, be quiet, come here, down ... I can't even begin to list all that she understands and knows.

Is it possible to have a well-behaved German shepherd with this type of informal training? Can I expect the same behavior to develop over time with Spirit that I now enjoy with Daisy?

How absolutely mandatory is formal training for German shepherds?
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't think that formal training trains the dog, it trains the owner. I used formal training for more of a socialization for my dogs. Once the owner knows how to train the dog then it becomes a part of every day life. Just like people, dogs adjust to routines. For instance I know that my morning routine is the same everyday and all of the dogs have adapted to that and know exactly what comes next. After living together for a length of time, owner and dog learn how to live together and behave.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Everything you do or don't do is a training exercise to a dog.

Just as we are, after genetic considerations, a dog is the product of its experiences.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I always viewed my classes as a "date night" with my puppy, lol. It wasn't something that *had* to be done, but there was lots of benefits to doing it. I agree that the day-to-day, minute-by-minute training/teaching/living/learning is by far the most valuable way to integrate the dog into your life, and lets them know what's expected from them.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think it depends on the type of training and what are the goals of the training. If you want to pass an IPO trial. You need some structure to your training. I also believe that this structured formal training regement helps build the bond that takes informal training to another level.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I know what you're saying, we have a "naturally good" dog in our Libby, and most of our other dogs.

But we have a "naturally bad" dog in Pebbles, who is coming up on 3yrs. of age now I believe.
She's the worst ever. She's reactive and redirects onto other dogs out of frustration, which is the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, at 11lb., she's not destroying things, she's crated while we're away. She will chew on things though. Just because she can.

I think it can go either way.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Every time you interact with your dog is actual training, either with or without good results. I hardly do formal training; it is interwoven throughout the day but he is a joy to live and play with at 9 months old, besides some adolescent mishaps that make you pull out your hair once in a while. I take him to several classes to keep up his socialization and it is fun and good to have some input and reminders from a good trainer
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