Often thought of as a domineering profession that is shot through with individuals that have deep seeded control issues, dog training has a dirty word that for a long time now has been misunderstood. The word obedience has long been thought of as “telling others what to do” but the roots of the word are very different. The word “obey” comes from to latin roots “ob” and “audire”. The root “ob” means “in the direction of” and the root “audire” means to hear. When put together they mean “to listen in the direction of or “oboedire”. Teaching our dogs to listen in the direction of their handler takes on a very different tone when you consider this original definition. Many times when a dog has difficulties with aggression, cowering fear or over excitement it is because they don’t have any idea of what to listen to or where to look. Their focus is fractured and they are unable to interpret there surroundings, resulting in erratic behavior. Teaching obedience should be about helping a dog to observe their world without immediately reacting to it. Eventually as new more healthy habits are formed a dog is able to be trusted to engage in the world instead of constantly pushing it away and this is how obedience can actually result in freedom.


In an attempt to gain some semblance of calm in our dogs behavior, people have often tried using control based techniques and sometimes they have worked. When they haven’t the reason is because we are trying to control the dog without teaching the dog to control him or herself. We at Sirius Dog Trainer understand that the goal of a handler to gain control is a false one if the handler has not achieved these four pillars first.

1. Trust

Sometimes referred to as “social capital” trust is a vital part of any healthy relationship. If we think of trust as a currency to be used judiciously in order to gain more trust and self confidence we can help a dog that is meek and easily startled to be confident and an already outgoing dog to be more thoughtful about the impulses they may be prone to.

2. Communication

Creating context for the ways in which humans relate thoughts to other humans is done at such an early age that we have often lost the memory of how difficult this skill is to master. Dogs are great communicators they just do their communicating through different means than humans do. A good dog trainer should be a translator for your dog and should be able to teach you effective ways to encourage your dog to communicate with you and vice versa.

3. Clarity of Intent

Having a goal is great but planning an approach to achieve that goal is critical if we are to succeed. Clarity of intent is being oriented towards what we want to see our dogs do as opposed to constantly telling our dogs what not to do. A leader gives their followers tasks to achieve and rewards them for work done well. Constantly telling our dogs what not to do does not give them an option for where to put there energy. Clarity of intent is as much an approach to setting goals for our dog as it is a mindset that we must aspire to if we are to instruct our dog. Children might not always listen to instructions but they are certain to mimic behavior and the same is true of dogs. So clarity of intent is as much about modeling proper conduct as it is anything else.

4. Fun

Sometime referred to in dog training as engagement, fun is a critical part of learning. Being fun is as difficult and rewarding as having fun when learning. Setting boundaries while still being the coolest person around is a trick that eludes many trainers and handlers in the dog world, but when its done right and there is consistency across all the influences in a dogs life, there is nothing you can’t do.