I'm going to start this blog with what will be - but really shouldn't be - a controversial, firm statement about dog training: People who need prong or pinch collars, electric shock, or any other high-pressure tool to train a dog have no clue how to train a dog well. This is no longer debatable, as the scientific research and scores of data we have on the subject make the point a fact.
It is critical to understand that unless you have a cultivated a good relationship with your dog, training will be an incredible challenge, and may even be impossible. The handler and dog must have a positive bond. Without this, any training you do will fall apart.
Walk away from dog trainer that tells you that you can have your dog fully trained in a matter of weeks. Good canine training takes months, if not years of effort. With this kind of commitment, your results will be exceptional. Solid. Lifelong. Without it, you can expect spotty compliance, resistance, and a dog that performs under duress due to the high-stress environment of an expedited training program.
Building a good relationship with a dog, laying the foundation of a lifelong, pleasant partnership, takes a lot of time. I cannot emphasize how important this part of the relationship is no matter what you're training your dog to do; whether it's being a generally good all-round family member, scent detection, retrieval, basic obedience, resolving reactivity, etc.
When training your dog, encourage her to utilize her natural faculties but do not exploit them or push the dog too far, too fast. The agreement between you and your dog to work together in harmony is a delicate one. To achieve this balance, it is critical that you learn to inhabit your dog's world and point of view. This is what it means to be your dog's true friend, and training your dog should be a pleasant experience for the dog and for you, the handler. It should be a successful learning process for everyone involved, one that yields progress and a deeper connection between you.
Let all of your work with your dog be directed at garnering a better understanding of the animal before you, strengthening your bond, and having an enjoyable time. Don't settle for anything less.
Camille Salter is the founder of All Dogs Toronto and a certified, knowledge-assessed dog trainer (CPDT-KA). She is the author of two books on dog behavior: Pandemic Puppy, Decoding the Dog Park, and the Big Book of Dog Training.