Concept training is a type of positive reinforcement training that uses games to teach dogs to cope with real life using transferrable skills. Concepts include confidence, optimism, calmness and focus.
Concepts shape your dog's personality rather than teach specific behaviours which may be performed well in some situations but not others. This is not to say that specific behaviours like sit, down and come are not taught, but they are taught so that they are more reliable in the real world outside of the training class.
Concept training builds a super relationship with your dog that puts you at the centre of your dog's world.
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My own dogs have taken me on a magnificent journey that opened up a whole new world of learning and experience that I would never have known existed just a few years ago.
I thought I was a good owner, I took my dogs to puppy class. They learned how to sit, down, recall (well, mostly!) and although they were wonderfully good natured dogs and more obedient than most, their over-exuberance could be, well, just plain embarrassing!
My dogs led me to train myself, to debunk the myths of dog training acquired in my childhood and repeated throughout my lifetime. Myths that spoke about dominance, pack leadership and punishment. Traditional, punishment based training did not sit well with me.
The puppy class training my dogs received was based on positive re-enforcement – reward good behaviours, ignore unwanted behaviours. However, it did not transfer well outside of the class or home surroundings where the dog might be distracted and simply not listening. The behaviours were party tricks and I struggled to win my dogs’ attention in new, exciting environments.
I searched for help on the internet but many methods still relied on punishment or deprivation. How could this work when the undesirable behaviour was intrinsically rewarding for the dog and punishment was delivered after the intrinsic reward derived from the behaviour? After a few false starts I found Concept Training.
Concept training uses games to teach dogs how to cope with real life using transferrable skills. Concepts include but are not limited to calmness, tolerance of frustration, focus and optimism all built on a foundation of a fantastic relationship with your dogs rather than specific behaviours which may be performed well in some situations but not in others. Concept training teaches your dog to make good decisions in a variety of environments using management of the environment, calmness and focus. The games build a relationship with your dog that puts you at the centre of your dog’s world.
I have studied Concept Training and continue to do so along with other dog training approaches including clicker training and disciplines such as nosework. I do pro bono work teaching Canine Good Citizens and volunteering my time at the local dog club as well as running my own companion dog training business. I am a certified Pro Dog Trainer, Pro Dog Geek and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers New Zealand which advocate for positive dog training methods.