Background Information: I use to work in “show” obedience classes. They would employ your general choke collars and going in circles. In fact I trained many canines this way. When it came to my oldest partner in the ring “Gin”. Gin was half border collie and half labrador. In training I noticed alot of dogs keeping their eyes low and their heads down, generally a submissive stance. Very few however, seemed to LOVE training class, they just liked it. To finish Gin I had to work completely offleash with very advance tricks and signals. I found that I had to retrain gin, to watch me. The other issue I had in advance levels, were heeling offleash, because she did not watch me, she had no idea where I was.
Through retraining Gin to watch me for advancement, I learned alot. I am fortunate to live on alot of private land, and places to do very long distance offleash tests, this helped greatly. After going through the trouble of retraining my prized pooch, I figured why did I not train her the way she would need to be when she was older?
As she aged, I ended up getting my Border Collie , Zee, about 20 months ago. This dog I was determined to prepare for advance training, in advance. I wanted to be very sure, that if something happened or she was 300 yards away, she would come, 100% of the time. (That was something I never saw easily in young dogs in the typical training classes).
I began my research in training, and found that there are people who train 8-9 week old pups, to sit and come. I found that you have to start the dog, how you want it to finish for best results. I decided to START my new 8 week old, completely, off leash. Using bait (food), praise, toys, love, and body language she was heeling better at 4 months then I had seen most dogs that had been in the classes for yaers. I took her downtown (on a very, loose leash) and people loved watching her work, when they asked her age, they were more in shock then ever.
To me it is about balancing the dog, working with the animal, and getting the best possible results that matter. It requires listening, patience, and understanding. Sometimes the quickest or easiest methods are not the best. Just like horse training is coming to an understanding of working with animals, and not against them, dog training eventually will as well.
The Final Pitch: Listen to your dog, teach your dog to listen to you, your body language, and respect you. Give your dog the same respect and listening skills back!