One thing has to be mentioned up front that is already very embarrassing: Almost no dog trainer is aware about the immense difference between education and training.
Education is the base for the dog and it enables him to live in a socially acceptable community. Education has a lot to do with restriction. The first thing a puppy must learn is the acceptance of a ban. However training has much to do with positive reinforcement since the dog should show joy and pleasure when he is learning something new. I as well only came across the importance of this distinction through the studies of my wolves.
In my initial years as a dog trainer I made the same nonsense as all the others I also passed this nonsense on to my students. After some time however I noticed that I did not always obtain the desired success with the conventional methods. Thus I tried out „new “methods. No matter what, with the clicker, reinforcing the feed, play or whatever excited or still exists - I was dissatisfied with the result. Everything lasted for too long and wasn’t 100% re-callable. However and above all it became clear to me that I had not understood the dog just as little as all the other trainers.
In order to learn more about dogs and their natural behaviour I dedicated myself to the wolves. As these are the forefathers of our current domesticated dogs they were the perfect study of object for me. I read all available books, observed wolves in zoos and wildlife parks and hoped to „translate “my consolidated findings on to the dogs. However it soon became clear to me that a study of these wolves was completely meaningless. Due to them being held in captivity they wouldn’t show too much of their specific natural behaviour. It also became clear me that practically everything that I had read on wolves and their behaviour was considerable rubbish.
The problem is that one cannot really study wolves in free nature because they are difficult to find and see. Wolves in captivity are usually partly domesticated and show a dissimilar and non social behaviour. Therefore I had to raise my study objects myself to be able to conduct a more genuine behaviour research.
The wolves in the LOBO PARK are to a large extent reared by hand in order to take away their natural shyness of humans. This gives us to opportunity to observe them stress-free and at the same token to maintain their natural behaviour. We are world-wide the first and only ones who dared to raise and preserve wolf packs without human dominance. That means that when I enter the enclosures the wolves will greet me but show no signs of submissive behaviour because I’m not their boss. I am in a way their extraterrestrial friend who is willingly seen. Therefore it was possible for me to study the wolf pack very closely and under practically natural conditions. These findings are most interesting and can be converted outstandingly on to dogs.
Thus over time a completely „new “method was developed for the education and training of dogs, which is as a final result the oldest and most natural of all. “caminolobo” (The way of the wolves).
The way how the alpha wolf for example deals with his pack members is exceptional. As the unrestricted pack leader he isn’t as aggressive and dominant as one would believe. It is rather dominance by ignorance. He doesn’t control his subordinates permanently – he rather assumes they probably behave, since it belongs to their obligation within the pack to be social compatible and favourable. He works neither with a clicker nor with fodder or prick collar and nevertheless the pack functions perfectly. Strict rules in a clear hierarchy prevail and nonetheless with affectionate interaction. And since the alpha animals of the pack are not power possessed or egoistic dictators, but know exactly like all the other members of the pack that they are not anything without the pack.
The affiliation to the pack is critical therefore each wolf makes an effort not to be abandoned from the pack. Herein also lays the secret of the unbelievable adaptability of our dogs. Unfortunately this also means that dogs adapt to bad leaders which generates many problems. Surely dogs can also be trained with force but the result is always sad. Dogs can be trained with fodder and purely positive reinforcement but they are unreliably in case of emergency and they lack clear guidance. The only reasonable way to work with dogs is a mixture of dominance, respect and affection – very much like the wolves are showing us.
With the application of the “caminolobo“ one thing is noticeable. Dogs learn extremely faster and more reliably with much less time spending. It does not matter how old the dog is. Previous failure is settled and the dog probably for the first time feels safer and better in a rigid organization with clear rules. For this reason also the adaptability and learning readiness increase immensely. It is decisive that the dog really understands the learned and doesn’t just bluntly repeat due to always-lasting conditioning, as it is very often being observed at dog training places. The dogs obey well at the place, but at home they fail often completely.
Dog owners have actually only two fundamental „problems“: either the dog is spoiled and socially surfeited. That leads to the fact that we are not really important to him, he actually only does what he wants to do and he terrorizes his “pack” through endless yapping, destruction rage, line draw, disobedience, aggression for no reason, fearfulness or impurity, etc..
Or the dog became so scared and timid due to too hard and unfair treatment that he does not have genuine confidence in us and will consequently fail in his behaviour (endless yapping, destruction rage, line, disobedience, groundless aggression, fearfulness, impurity, etc.). Do you notice something? Often you have the same effects.
The worst is however what can happen to a dog if these two “problem” mix: an owner who on the one side spoils his dog too much, and on the other punishes his dog proportionately too hard for failure. That is the pure horror for the dog. We think that e.g. pulling on the line is a problem. Every conventional dog trainer will also continue telling you that and surely he has a solution ready at hand. Practice, practice and practice again - with reward, with punishment, with anything possible. That fills the trainers till but doesn’t help you. The problem with the problem is not the problem but the effect. We should ask ourselves why the dog pulls. Why does he want to go away from us? Very simple: WE ARE BAD LEADERS!
For all there is only one solution. We have a very large responsibility as dog owners - not only towards the animal but also to our surrounding. If we buy a puppy we must assume we will live together for approx. 12 years. We want to enjoy the time together with the dog. And also we may not burden others with it - on the contrary it should be enriching also for the others. For that reason we have the obligation to educate our dog reasonably so that it can live his life socially compatible with us and others. That functions however only if we finally learn to understand dogs and recognize their needs. Our dogs need understanding, clear, respectful guidance and affection which gives them security. Under these conditions each dog becomes the perfect partner. We don’t need fodder, or clicker, or a prick collar to work successfully with our dogs. We have a voice, our mimic as well as our hands and arms to make ourselves understandable. The acknowledgment which we give is the acceptance through our physical closeness.
Important it is only that we understand one thing: WE must learn the language of the dogs - they will be able to never learn our language. Let’s therefore back to the roots – let’s learn from the wolves – and for the good of our dogs – let’s go the way of the wolf.