February 15, 2002
Raising Your Dog the New Skete Way:
A brief guide to training your dog
There are many dog training methods and programs available. When my dog found his way into my life, I knew little about raising a puppy. Someone recommended to me the books written by The Monks of New Skete. The New Skete monastery in upstate New York is home to orthodox Catholic monks whose life work includes breeding German shepherds and training dogs of all breeds. Their unique approach has been adopted and adapted into many programs and classes. They have written books, produced videos, and maintain a great web site. For a fuller appreciation of their approach and philosophy, you can find more information at The Monks of New Skete
A relationship with a dog is open-ended and expansive, a unique opportunity that provides
the means for enhancing the quality of life for both the dog and the owner. Each dog is an
individual possessing possibilities that may truly surprise us.
To be authentically human means learning to give oneself unselfishly, ungrudgingly, and to one who listens, the very nature of the dog calls this out in a unique and compelling way. In the very routine and ordinariness of a relationship with a dog, through the discipline and responsibility it entails, we learn about ourselves, about nature, about God and the spiritual path we are on in ways that would otherwise be unavailable to us. Without apologies, we have discovered that dogs play a crucial role in our growth in consciousness.
- The Monks of New Skete
This page will provide a very brief tutorial on how to leash train and
teach your dog to come when called. As is clear from their words
above, The Monks of New Skete have a unique philosophy about the relationship
between humans and dogs. Although their philsophy is religious as
well, anyone who appreciates dogs and the special relationships humans
have with them will find inspiring and helpful guidance in the New Skete
approach. The actual techniques I list below did not originate with
the monks but are implemented as part of their holistic approach to raising
a dog. The monks believe that each dog is a unique personality, just
like each person, and that we as people learn as much from the training
process as our dogs do. It's not about making your dog do what you
want, but about leading your dog and forming a relationship based on respect
Leash Training Your Dog
It is amazing just how strong even a small puppy or dog can be when she's on the other end of the leash! Here are the basic steps in leash training your pup so that you aren't pulled down the street behind her. Walking with your dog should be a pleasant experience for both of you. Here are the basic steps in teaching your dog not to pull and instead to walk alongside you (this is part of teaching the "heel" command):
The Come Command
A common mistake people make is to call their
dog repeatedly and then to give up in frustration, if she doesn't come.
The key to teaching your dog to come when called is to first train her
using a leash. If you try calling your dog or use the come command,
and he doesn't, but you don't have a means of reinforcing the come command,
the dog learns that, in fact, he doesn't have to do what you've asked!
(This is true of any directions you teach your dog. If you're inconsistent,
your dog learns he doesn't really have to listen to you!)
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