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Canine psychology or training… What is the difference?

Updated: Feb 21

Eve Torres is a Dog & Human Relationship Coach, certified professional dog trainer with over 6 years of experience, and founder of Holy Doggie. She completed the César Millán (TCW) Canine Psychology program and is also an energy healer, certified Oneness meditator, and guardian of 6 dogs.

Although the problem of overpopulation and abandonment of dogs in Puerto Rico seems to

have no end, in recent years we have made progress in some aspects. Today we see a society

with more “pet friendly” places, “dog parks”, and more guardians seeking professional help to be

able to have better control of their dogs and be able to enjoy these spaces. However, when it

comes to choosing the right service to have a balanced dog and develop a harmonious human-

canine relationship in the long term, there is still some way to go.

Dogs are animals that, although they manage to adapt very well to our world, are of another species and have particular needs. When we adopt or buy a dog, no matter the reasons or our perception of the matter, we are integrating an instinctual animal into our human family, which will change the dynamic and require our commitment of time and money for 15 years or more. Educating ourselves about the species is vital to be able to satisfy their needs and guide them correctly.

One of the most common reasons for dog abandonment on the Island is behavioral problems; barks excessively, pulls on the leash, relieves itself in unwanted places, snaps, is reactive or aggressive, to name a few reasons. A dog that manages to behave well inside and outside the home is a dog that will have a greater chance of staying in that home. But to achieve this, the dog depends largely on its guardian and many times when that guardian seeks professional help through a trainer, he is not clear about what his interspecies family needs or correct expectations of the service.

Dog training is a discipline created by humans to control canine behavior. It focuses on your body language and seeks to generate certain behaviors through conditioning techniques. A trainer can create associations between words/commands/gestures and the dog's natural behaviors such as sit, lie down, stay, and/or teach more complex tasks, depending on the type of training. Many guardians think that this professional will change the dog forever with a magic wand and that by recognizing commands, their dog will no longer have behavioral problems. And this is very far from reality.

Even though, dog training can help a guardian have a set of words to better communicate with

their dog. The focus of these services is largely on the dog, not the human-dog relationship.

Many training programs include little or no classes with and for the guardian, and the goal is for

him to know how to ask for commands or tasks that the dog learned in the course. That is why it

is very common to see dogs that respond very well to basic commands or have even completed

two or even three training programs and the behavioral problems continue.

When we work with a dog from its psychology, we base ourselves on the natural laws that govern the dynamics of its species: how the dog interprets the world, its environment, the actions of its guardian, how it learns, how it communicates and what it needs to achieve a balanced state. A dog behavior expert who bases his services on principles of canine psychology seeks to understand the dog's mental state, in order to find the root of the problem and help the human too. You can evaluate a dog's energy type, regardless of whether it is high, medium or low, to know what your guardian's interactions should be like, training tools and appropriate experiences that will help you educate him and take advantage of what he already knows or rehabilitate the dog.

A training style, collar, exposure or corrections that a dog is subjected to in a training program can become ineffective or even traumatic if the trainer does not take into account the nature of the species and does not correctly read the mental state and the energy of that particular dog and/or have no experience working on the behavioral problem they are exhibiting. Selecting a dog behavior professional should not be based primarily on price or their reach on social networks, but on their knowledge, approach and, above all, experience; understanding that it will be a guide for the guardian who must continue practicing and progressing the relationship with his dog for life.

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