If you start working with a dog trainer in London, one of the fundamental skills that you are likely to cover is ‘engagement’
Being engaged with training is not about effort or time alone, but body language, enthusiasm and tone of voice. The principle here is that the more you are engaged with the process, the more responsive your dog will be and thus the more successful training will be.
This point is repeatedly made by dog trainers. Little and Large Dogs starts by highlighting the importance of eye contact, showing the dog from the very start that you are totally serious in getting its attention. This needs to be returned fully by your dog giving you its full attention.
Equally, keeping good control of the dog when on a lead is important for showing who is in charge. If you don’t show enough interest, the dog will seek to act independently. By keeping them on a tight leash and rewarding them for obeying commands, your focus, concentration and relevant body language will retain their engagement.
The article states that by keeping and rewarding engagement, problem behaviours will be much easier to nip in the bid.
For that reason, it is important that you are positive, cheerful and patient. If you get angry or frustrated, this can send the wrong signals, so if you get in that frame of mind, it is wise to stop the training session.
Being patient is certainly crucial. In a blog on engagement, Myshutzhundlife.com notes that engagement can be described in five stages.
It starts with the owner or trainer engaging using food or a toy. Then the dog engages. Then the dog will push for more sustained engagement, then for sustained engagement and work, before, finally, engagement is created for competition (for performing dogs).
All this takes time and patience. Of course, training a pet dog will not involve going as far as the ‘competition’ stage. But the key point remains the same; focus, dedication and interest is needed from the owner to get started. It is from there that the dog’s engagement will follow.