We are often asked about the training of an IWS. This is a breed that is intelligent, sensitive and Irish! They do not make good kennel or backyard dogs. They want and need interaction with their people. They like to have a job and love to learn but do not do well with structured, repetitive and boring training. But that is not to say that they don’t need a very firm hand at times. Firm is fine as long as it is fair. The worse type of home is a home that is unwilling to discipline if the dog needs it but will then explode on the dog when the frustration with the dog’s behavior gets too much. The IWS does not tolerate what they think is unfair.
When working with an IWS there are four things you need. Often people are aware of these four things but prioritize them in the wrong order.
This is by far the most important. And we are talking your mindset, not the dogs. I am sure you have heard the adage “If you think something is going to happen, it most likely will.”. How you are thinking is read by the dog in our body language, breathing patterns and vocalizations from grunts to sighs.
This is the second most important thing you bring to the table. Working with your dog should be proactive not reactive. By having a plan for a specific out-come, you are more likely to achieve the results you are looking for.
The ability to put the plan into action does require some skills. There are many ways to get the skills you need. The best way is usually to find someone that is good at those skills and work with them. It could be a mentor, a class instructor or any person that can help you achieve your goal.
This is the least important really. I am always asked about what you should or should not use while working with your dog. The most important thing is for you to make sure you understand how ANY equipment you use is meant to work. There is no such thing as good or bad choices. The equipment is only as useful or harmful as the person using it. And a well trained dog should not need a specific piece of equipment to do the task they have been asked to do. And yes, this includes FOOD. If your dog will only comply because you have a treat you do not have a trained dog. The dog has trained you! Often though, there might be a certain type of equipment that will make the training easier. This is another reason to work with someone that has demonstrated success at the type of training you have set for a goal.
There is a lot of training info and downloadable information on training at our business website (www.aocb.com) and we always welcome questions about training or behavior issues.