Today’s trainer has a wealth of resources, including scientific studies and video guides, to help achieve a perfect sit, down, stay, and other behaviors that will make your dog worthy of the title Canine Good Citizen.
Humans, though, have been training dogs for millennia, and sometimes it’s nice to consider how it was done in bygone eras. For Throwback Thursday, we present tips from The Amateur Trainer, a hunting-dog manual first published in 1893.
In his introduction, author Ed. F. Haberlein noted that the 138-page tome “can be recommended to all amateurs who own a dog, whether trained or untrained, as perfectly reliable, and as giving all the information necessary to become a successful trainer and handler of the bird dog.” He later adds that while his techniques were aimed at creating a perfect hunting partner, the skills learned can lay the foundation for any other activity, tricks, for example, “such as would ultimately culminate in a circus dog,” the author noted.
It is a classic and among the oldest training books in the AKC library. The manual was continually reprinted for more than 30 years. While some of the advice has been supplanted by other, more effective techniques, here are a few gems that might aid today's dog owner.
The Name Game: “The name to which the dog is to respond in practical life should be short and of good ring. Long names and those that resemble some of the orders of the dog’s work should be avoided for obvious reasons.
Puppy’s First Collar: “As soon as the dog finds himself deprived of his wonted liberty, he naturally will attempt to free himself of his fetters, and a spell of tugging and yelping will follow … Let him have his own way about it for awhile; perhaps before long he may come to the conclusion that his behavior is alike foolish and useless, and then cease his acrobatic performances.”
What Not to Wear: “The attire of the trainer should have nothing flopping or dangling about it; a snug fitting jacket or short coat is best. Wear a pair of soft leather gloves for the protection of the hands.”
On His Master’s Voice: “The trainer should avoid loud and harsh talk during the exercises. It is unnecessary to give commands at top of voice at close quarters, and if continued, the dog will become accustomed to it, and in the future necessitate loud and louder bawling to attract his attention at all.”