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One thing I have found out over the years is that there is no one size fits all approach to training.

The only thing that really works is consistency and adaptation.

I have read every training and dog psychology book under the sun pretty much, from the likes of Jan Fennell, Cesar Milan, Victoria Stillwell, Jean Donaldson and the list goes on.

The goal of each trainer and book is to teach you to teach your dog, but I don't think you can really learn from a book because we tend to skip the bits we can't grasp or rather our dogs don't grasp and move into the next, and sometimes we give up all together at that point and look for another training method in the hopes of a magic, instant solution.

I used Jan Fennell's training methods with Jack, I watched the videos and read the books, but I didn't do everything she advocated, I adapted it to my dog, Maia came to me having been trained in Jan's methods and she was a nervous wreck, being a sensitive soul those methods left her with a fear complex which manifested in aggression, Jan's 'pack leader' training just didn't suit Maia and we had to teach her how to feel safe and not look to me for everything, to stand on her own 4 paws. Jack turned out a smashing well rounded Labrador, beautifully behaved with no neurosis. One size doesn't fit all!

So when you start to train your dog, and that should be from day 1, think of it as a partnership, do your research beforehand, decide which training Method you are going to follow and stick to it but be prepared to tweak it for your dog.

Training happens every minute of every day, you can't take days off or let something slip, because trust me it's harder to undo a habit, it' very easy to slip into the 'once a week training class' mentality and then wonder why your dog is super brilliant in the hall and bleedy awful out out in the real world.
 

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Got to agree with you Natalie. I used the same methods for my first two labs, a mixture of what I'd been shown by various trainers at the dog club we attended. I took the bits I liked and adapted some other things to suit the labrador mentality. I was lucky in having a lovely lady who had trained Labradors for years who became my mentor.
With Merlin I came unstuck and really struggled to adapt to his more sensitive nature. Methods I'd used successfully in the past just didn't feel right and he would become very stressed and didn't cope with competitions at all. Sadly my mentor and good friend had passed away and I didn't agree with a lot of the methods other trainers were using. The Dog Whisperer programmes had become popular and there was no way I'd use any of that on such a sensitive dog. So any formal training stopped and we enjoyed playing more than winning trophies.
Willoughby has been a totally different experience. I used more or less the same methods but adapted to suite his more boisterous nature. His ED put me off some of the things we were going to try with him. Agility and fly ball are out now, it's so very competitive around here.
The best advice I got was to really know your dog so you can predict his/her response to most situations and preempt so the dog doesn't make a mistake.
 
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