5 Dog Training Lessons the movie "Days of Thunder can teach us

Luzelle & Puppy Sage of HausTralis Malinois at Starbucks Botany Auckland

By Luzelle Cockburn

The other night, while I was watching a re-run of Days of Thunder, I realised that some of the things that happened in the movie are actually valuable dog training lessons. I don’t usually sit with a pen and paper making notes when watching a movie, but I thought it would be fun. So here goes!

Lesson 1

When Cole told Harry he didn’t understand anything about Cars, Harry used the opportunity to teach Cole in a way that he would understand. The lesson is that when we realise our dog doesn’t understand what we are trying to teach, it’s up to us to find a way to teach our dogs. There are many different ways to teach dogs, and dogs have different learning styles, just like people. But if you are frustrated, don’t despair. An experienced dog trainer can help you find a training style that your dog will understand.

What do I mean?  Delta and Kaz both have different learning styles, so I had to adapt to each dog to help them understand what I wanted them to do.  It is my job to figure out how to get my dogs to understand what I want them to do.  Just like it was Harry’s job to teach Cole how to conserve the wear and tear on his tires.

Lesson 2

Harry told Cole to do something that Cole wasn’t comfortable. So Harry used some extra motivation (he lied that he’d changed the tyres) and then Cole said he trusted Harry when it came to the car. The lesson is that we are like Harry and our dog is like Cole. We need to help, motivate and encourage our dog. We also need to work with them, so that we know when we can trust them.  But our dog also needs to be able to trust that we are making the right decisions.

I’ve often asked my dogs to do things outside their comfort zone or things they’d rather not do.  I had to decide how I needed to handle each dog.  It’s my job to make sure I know what my dogs can handle, even if they don’t have confidence in themselves, and give them the support to help them through.

“It’s my job to make sure I know what my dogs can handle, even if they don’t have confidence in themselves, and give them the support to help them through.”

Lesson 3

When Harry played a trick on Cole, it was fun (and funny) at first until Cole thought the next time he met a pretty lady (Dr Lewicki no less) that Harry was playing a trick on him again. The lesson we can take away from this is that it pays to be consistent. Dogs remember and we could be embarrassed if our dogs did something we had allowed previously under different circumstances.

I used to allow my puppies to chew my old shoes.  Well, it was all fine till they got hold of my nice heels!  EEK!  And well, I still wore them with puppy teeth marks. That happened right up until I got my little destroyer. Thereafter shoes became a serious no-no!

Lesson 4

Cole and Rowdy were always in competition with each other.  Even at inappropriate times.  The lesson we can take away from this is that we should teach our dogs to settle down.  Always wanting to do stuff is not appropriate and people can get hurt, well, maybe not that extreme, but an over excited dog can easily knock things and little or older people over.

Zak was always excited about everything.  Coming inside the house, going outside the house, the beach the whatever, everything was his favourite thing (or at least it seemed that way).  But having that 40kg dog hump me at my first intro agility class because he was so excited, was quite embarrassing.

Lesson 5

When Harry told Dr Lewicki not to hold a bad opinion of Cole he showed that he cared for Cole and understood him. He knew that Cole couldn’t handle harsh judgement at that time because of the accident he’d been in. The lesson we can learn from this is that we should know our dog, and be an advocate for them.

Often times, our dogs feel what we are experiencing deeply, and it can make them appear to be acting out of character. Being aware of what’s going on can help us make the right choices for our dogs.

What was your favourite lesson?

Was it lesson 1? Adapt to your dog so that you can teach them in a way that they will understand. What about lesson 2? Trust goes both ways, give your dog a reason to trust you and teach your dog how to behave so that you can trust them!

And lesson 3, then is think about your interactions with your dog, they can have consequences. Lesson 4 is that it’s important to teach your dog to be calm. While it might be cute when your dog gets excited, teach them to settle down when you ask them because it’s not always appropriate for your dog to get over excited! And lesson 5 is stick up for your dog! If you understand your dog better then you can stop bad things happening to your dog.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post as much as I did writing it!  Which lesson is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below! We’d love to hear what you think! 

Need Some Help with Your Dog?

The whole reason I’m a dog trainer is to keep dog out of shelters and rescues and off death row. The best way to do that is to keep dogs with their families! So, I’ve put together some resources to help you with your dog! It’s all kept in The Dog Training Lab – you’ll find heaps of free resources, just pop your email address in The Free Resources Hub to get access and you’re set! 

What information is in there? Tips to help you with walking your dog on lead, toilet training, problem barking and so much more!

Hey, I’m Luzelle!

If it has to do with transforming your naughty, embarrassing, frustrating or worrying dog into an obedient, well behaved member of the canine society that you can actually enjoy spending your life with, I can help.

Wanna know more? Check out the SolutionK9 About page!

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