Dog training lessons from Cache Lake Country

One of my favourite books is Cache Lake Country by John J. Rowlands.  In it, Rowlands reminisces on his first year in the north country, with tips and tricks for the people who choose a solitary life up in the north woods.  In it he also makes mention of the dogs he owns, huskies he calls Old Wolf and Tripper.

Patience and more patience and firm kindness is the secret of training a dog, or any animal for that matter.  You want him to love his work and good sled dogs do.

I think that one of the things that people don’t consider when adding a Shiba to their lives is that it has the attitude, intelligence and ability to work at something and, like huskies and other northern breeds, generally has a better time when it has something it is expected to do.

This doesn’t mean the work has to be serious, like hauling a sled or packing in the 2 pounds that a Shiba could safely carry, but it has to be something that you expect the Shiba to do and do well.  Like Rowlands says, this comes with “patience and more patience and firm kindness”.  “Work” to a dog is something that their owner takes seriously and expects the dog to take seriously likewise.  This could be anything from tracking to just being a good companion.

Rowlands goes on to say:

If you want a good sled dog don’t make a pet of him.  You can be good friends, but a dog that is a pet is almost sure to be spoiled and does not obey as he ought to.  You must earn a dog’s respect and he has to know who is master.

“Pet” in this case refers to a dog that has been allowed its own way and hasn’t been required to do or be much of anything.  Dogs that are allowed to follow their own inclinations to the exclusion of everything else seldom end up in happy homes, as they are constantly trying to exercise their perceived dominance, which puts them in conflict with the humans they live with.

I think that Rowlands makes four good points about dogs and their training.  One, you need patience.  Two, you need to be firm.  Three, you should not spoil your dog and allow him to run heedlessly through life.  Four, you need to consider what your dog does as work and you need to take it seriously, so your dog learns to do so as well.

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