I have just finished listening to an audible book that was so enchanting I want to now read it, again, and again. The book is called Nigel and was written by the gardener and wonderfully spoken Monty Don.
Monty tells us of Nigel and of his other dogs he has had over the years, revealing his life and weaving through his garden as the story unfurls.
I laughed out loud at points of the story, and I cried when he told us about the loss of each dog, sharing a love that many of us have for our dogs, and also sharing with us that dreaded day we all fear.
He comes across as an open and honest man.
In one of the chapter Monty tells of meeting with a gamekeeper, he tells us that @I remembered every word when it came to training Nigel'. The Game keeper was at the least a second generation Gamekeeper, and over a couple of pints of beer he passed onto Monty some wise words concerning dog training. The gamekeeper said 'Everything should be geared to making the dog want to please you rather than subjugating it to your will.'
The gamekeeper also said never hit a dog. 'Reward is the key', he said, 'not punishment. the dog wants to please you more than anything else. Tell him he has done well. He will respond to the tone of your voice. But also carry some biscuits and cheese and give him a scrap when he does exactly what you command. By the same token never reward him if e he only does half a job.'
Monty in a later chapter tells of his belief that "Dogs can truly. in any sense of the word, love their owners. This means that the relationship between a dog and a human can be deeply rich and rewarding for both parties. They are not 'just an animal'. They are the dearest of friends and part of the family. So when a criticism is levelled that someone treats their dogs 'like children' implying that this is a step too far. it may well be that this is appropriate and reasonable. Every dog has a role that can only be determined by each individual family.
He goes onto say how that 'the notion that an owner has to assume the role of leader of the pack, to be the Alpha dog, with their dogs submissive and therefore obedient, is a nonsense that is a complete misunderstanding of the canine mentality. Dogs are not domesticated wolves but have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be a species in complete synchronicity with humans and dependant upon them.' He goes on to say how 'bullying your dog is a relationship based upon fear pandering to the macho ego of humans.'
Monty also talks about his son who is a farmer with a very skilled sheepdog called Meg, how she responds to the slightest look or intonation, but how you have to be really firm and shout at her at times to hold her back.
Wise words from Monty for that is all one should need at most to use with a dog, just ones voice. People say that the old way to train a dog was 'Break a dog', and yes that did use to happen and sadly still does. but there has always been throughout the years owners who have trained without ever raising a hand to the wonderful animal that is striving to understand what the owner wants. So many of us train our dogs with kindness, working through the training with our dog, together as a growing team that will share many wonderful cherished moments. Never needing to or wanting to raise our hand to them, never needing to give ourselves an excuse that 'it's only five percent of the time', for we know you don't have to harm your Partner to know to do so is wrong on so may levels.