“Dogs are blameless, devoid of calculation neither blessed nor cursed with human motives. They can't really be held responsible for what they do. But we can. They have their own traits and instincts, but to a considerable degree they are what we make them, what we teach them to be ." – Jon Katz (Author)
Sufat Sheleg Training Philosophy
First and foremost, are Canaan Dogs are our working companions. They are loving and loyal members of our family and are expected to be well-mannered dogs around people and other animals. And in this age of BSL, why would you want anything else?
“Don’t train for perfection, train to be better.” These words were spoken by one of Macc’s
seminar instructors, and they are the basis for our Training Philosophy. Just as every person is an individual, each dog has their own personality. This includes individual strengths
and weaknesses. Match that up with a handler’s own traits, and you can see why a fluid training methodology is required.
We did not participate in any performance events with our mixed breed dogs. Agility was still new, and Rally was not on the radar yet. But we had the expectation of our dogs being good companions and good canine citizens, or to be more Canadian, neighbours.
Among our requirements for a dog when we set out to investigate the various breeds was for a healthy, athletic dog with whom we could compete in performance sports. This is one of the foremost versatile breeds, a dog that had to develop and hone all of their senses in order to evolve and survive for thousands of years in the desert. This breed can be highly manipulative and independent "in their problem-solving methods" since many of their behaviours are instinctual and adaptive due to a need to keep a strong desire for self-preservation as their key to survival. Their key to success in training comes when the handler understands them and are dedicated to being a strong "human pack leader". Being an effective "pack leader" is not about inflicting physical pain when training. Training a well-mannered dog takes time and commitment. Here is an excellent article about what "leadership" in training means -CLICK HERE
Through the course of raising and training our dogs we have used a wide variety of training methods. The philosophies of our instructors have also come
into the mix. We have borrowed from herding, obedience, agility, tracking and conformation. And in Michelle and Larry you find people that realize that they are only scratching the
surface of training and handling. They are always learning, through courses or literature, how to better motivate their dogs. You will not find anyone at Sufat Sheleg hiding behind
rationalizations when an activity falls apart. The dog’s performance is only as good as the preparation that goes into it. If you have failed as a trainer, then the dog will not
respond properly. This is not a breed-thing, this is a dog-thing.
“Training a dog is something of a spiritual experience when done properly, a meshing of the instincts and traits of two very different species trying to live together harmoniously." – Jon Katz (Author)
Obedience training is the foundation to establishing the “social hierarchy”. When your Canaan obeys a simple request of 'come here, sit,' he is showing compliance and respect for you. You CAN teach your Canaan his subordinate role by teaching him to show submission to you in a paw raise (shake hands) or hand lick (give a kiss). Most dogs love performing these tricks (obedience commands) for you which also pleasantly acknowledge that YOU are in charge.
Enroll in puppy socialization classes and dog obedience training classes to learn the basics. Then most teaching and training can and should be done in your home. It is best to begin training in an area that is familiar to your dog and with the least amount of distractions as possible. When you feel both you and your dog are skilled at several obedience commands, then take these commands to different areas. Introducing distractions may seem like starting all over again, but it's worth the effort. In reality, who cares if your dog will sit stay when no one is around? What you need is a dog who will sit-stay when company is at the door. Who cares if your dog heels beautifully in your own back yard? But you need to start there if you eventually want a dog who will heel when walking down the street.
Canaan Dogs are quick learners. We refer to them as a "thinking breed", which makes them great problem solvers. They can learn a variety of commands in one session, which makes training easy and fast. Because they learn so quickly they may get bored of repetition in a training session – once they have the command in place they are ready to learn something new! In fact, since they are quick studies, they are more responsive to learning a multiple of commands in one short session. Be consistent, fair, patient, and enthusiastic in your training sessions - and always aim to keep training sessions short and lively so he will want to come back for more!
Please be sure to read our section on SOCIALIZATION for further education on raising a happy, confident Canaan.