The general dog-loving community has started hearing about Concept Training. This is good news. It is the cutting edge in dog training, effective and uncomplicated. Because it is new there is a bit of confusion, which I hope to clear up.
As a Concept Trainer, I think it’s important that people understand the basis of this approach. Concept training is, very simply, focusing on the concept behind the unwanted dog behavior instead of the unwanted behavior itself. As an example, a concept dog trainer would ask why a dog takes a treat roughly, biting the hand offering the treat. Probably because he lacks lacks patience, self-control, and trust, all of which are life skills necessary for the survival of any animal. As a concept trainer, I would create training games that teach patience, self-control and trust. These training games would be fun, highly rewarding and VERY repetitive.
I like to compare this method to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for adults and children. It is well documented that when trying to change an unwanted behavior it is better to focus on the behavior we like, not on the behavior we don’t like. It’s the ultimate in optimism when you look at it from this perspective.
When I’m explaining this to a new client, I like to use an example I learned from my sister when my daughter was trying her hand at being a fussy toddler. My sister put it simply: You put your sunshine on the behavior you want more of, which will directly increase the likelihood of that nice behavior being repeated.
If you replace the word “sunshine” with food, affection, play, and attention when training a dog or puppy you can see how the sunshine analogy works. As a concept trainer I rely heavily on this very basic, and highly useful principle.
Now, I know this sounds time consuming and complicated, but I assure you it is not. When a proper treatment plan is designed by a concept trainer, and it is followed carefully by the family (with frequent check ins to continue modifying the games to suit the skill with which the dog performs them) things begin to improve quickly. Worry and frustration are replaced by hope and patience, both for the dog and the family.
Reflecting on my career path and finding myself heavily immersed in the concept-training world, I’m struck by the fact that I was born an optimist. This method fits me perfectly. My hope is that my optimism will be infectious and that you will also become an enthusiastic concept trainer. Your dog will thank you for it.