We Need A New Kind of Dog Training Show On TV

Beauceron Jumping Fun Dog Training

I love dogs. Obviously. Dog behavior has been my life for nearly 50 years and for me, dog training has always been the most intriguing aspect of the whole field of animal behavior. I have always found dog training to be interesting, challenging, fulfilling, beyond useful, exciting, tantalizing and above all, fun. 

Training is the very essence of sharing life with a dog. How we communicate with our best friend, i.e., teaching them ESL, so they understand what we would like them to do. How we motivate them to want to do what we would like them to do. How we ask them questions? Yes, objective, scientific questions in order to discover their personal preferences and accommodate to their immediate needs? How we teach them useful stuff, such as, not to bark at delivery people and passersby but to always bark when a stranger is on the property (Dune’s job), or ONLY to bark at delivery people so you know when you have a delivery (Claude’s job). (For years, our wonderful UPS delivery man, who initially helped us teach Claude not to be afraid of men and trucks, would stop on his rounds or outside our house, so that he could give Claude a biscuit for barking.) 

Or, find my keys, wallet, or remote control, find Kelly, ring your poochie bells to let me know you need to pee, high five (high four?) and wag on cue, make me smile, fetch me a beer from the fridge, or even, vacuum and do the dishes. (I wish.)

And then of course, there’s the games we play with our dogs … bubbles, tag, tug, three-way doggie tug, hide-n-seek, Malamute Mail (find and deliver a note to Jamie), Hugo battling a radio-controlled Hummer, Dune with an enormous blue Jolly Ball stuck on his head. He used to bite of the handle, plunge his head inside and then run round the yard growling and bumping into fences and shrubs. (At least he was wearing a helmet.) And so, why are we not seeing the fun side of dog training on television? 

I find so many dog training television shows tend to be formulaic and predictable, frequently focusing on conflict and countering problems, problems, problems and even more problems, hence presenting the picture that dog training is time-consuming, laborious, complicated, frustrating, combative, unpleasant and sometimes, even a downright drag, i.e., a problem.

What I would like to see is a one-hour, prime-time program of not stop blazing action, canine athleticism, creative and captivating routines, usually skillful, often hilarious, sometimes moving and occasionally, quite bizarre but all the time, bubbling with fun, oozing relationship and overflowing with oodles of woofs, wags, smiles and giggles. We need to teach people how much fun it is to teach dogs using simple, quick and easy, effective training techniques that don’t require consistency, exquisite timing, a PhD in Psychology, a heavy hand, or a year and a day. Then, problems will simply go … “poof”!

Video is a marvelous educational medium and certainly, dogs have become much more prominent in movies, sitcoms and especially, advertising. PuppyDogs have a proven ‘Ahhhhh!-factor’ and are used to promote products from cars to beer to insurance. (Actually, no, I think a gecko does that.) But a Chihuahua once sold a small fortune in tacos in just under 30 seconds by making lots of people laugh out loud and in England dogs even advertise toilet tissue … with humor … and with feeling! Dogs have everything going for them. And so, the time is way overdue for dogs to have a dedicated video opportunity for themselves to advertise the fun side of dog training, i.e., to promote dog training and to promote dogs.

Currently, YouTube videos portray the fun side of dog training much more so than conventional media. Consequently, with the newfound time at my disposal from semi-retirement, Kelly, Jamie and I have at long last been able to launch what has been my pet project for years —an annual online Dog Video contest. The contest theme is “Summer Fun”, the First Prize is US$1000, the deadline for entry is Summer Solstice (20th June 2016) and the winners will be announced on 1st July. Winning criteria are creativity, cleverness, cuteness, pizazz, panache, interpretation of theme, artistic impression, technical merit (evidence of training skill), entertainment value and of course, number of views. Check out the current entries in the Contest Gallery here.

Now you have a platform to showcase your talented, tail-wagging Thespians and canine comedians and make them dog stars for the world to see and so, go on … give it a go. Put on a show for our viewers, so that everybody can see just how easy and enjoyable dog training can (should) be and how people can have fun with their dogs and dogs can have fun with their people.

I hear music. I see vibrant colors. I hear laughter, giggles and woofs of joy. I see dogs with tails a wag, frolicking on the beach, running through woods, diving off docks, catching balls and Frisbees, fetching beers (and doing the dishes). I see canine circuses, doggy games at County Fairs, Bassets snoozing on porches, beagles baying at barbeques and dogs dancing on the beach, in the moonlight, with their humans. A joyful canine extravaganza! Indeed, let laughter and giggles and woofs and wiggles be the hallmark of “Summer FUN”.

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