Dog Training- Commonly Heard
I love my job as a dog trainer. Dog training is fun and enjoyable and it’s wonderful to be able to help so many dogs and dog owners.
As with any job, however, there are always certain quirks and things that frustrate or make you laugh. One of these in my profession is a question I hear with frequency. The question comes in different forms but it always ends in a similar fashion:
“My dog is really aggressive when he sees other dogs. Do you have any tips?”
“My puppy keeps peeing on the floor. What tips can you give me to make him stop?”
“My couch was destroyed by my dog the other day. What should I do to get him to stop?”
The frustration behind these questions is, how can you boil down the required work, expertise, foundational training, and everything else needed to fix these problems into a few tips?
To me, these questions would be similar to asking a contractor ‘How do you build a house?’ Or asking a mechanic ‘How do you rebuild a carburetor?’ How would they answer that? There are literally hundreds or thousands of moves required to build a house or rebuild a car part, how would you encapsulate that into a few tips? You can’t, and the same is true for dog training.
Dog Training- Where The Problem Comes From
I’ve come to believe that this mindset comes from a couple different areas:
1- Dog Training television shows. There are several dog training TV shows on the air these days where, seemingly, miracles are worked in mere minutes. In these shows it seems like the dog trainer is able to transform a dog in mere minutes.
The dirty little secret in the dog training industry is that most dog trainers, even many of the under-qualified and less skilled trainers, are able to see quick results. Quite commonly in our first sessions with new clients we find that these dog owners are amazed and the turnaround their dogs have in mere minutes.
While just about any trainer can see quick results, it’s the great trainers that are able to turn those into long lasting and solid results for their clients.
The sad part is, though, that many dog owners have been conditioned to believe that with a well timed treat here, or a harsh ‘shoosh’ over there you can get your dog trained. That just isn’t the case.
2- Ill prepared dog owners. In today’s day and age we want fast and complete. Quick food, quick arrivals at our destinations, plumbers and cable guys that are at our home right away, etc.
I always tell our clients that we can see very quick results in their dog training efforts. But for lasting results, though, that will take time. Many dog owners just aren’t prepared to put the work in that is needed.
Dog Training- The Best Mindset
Instead of looking for quick tips to solve a dog training problem one must first look at the root cause and the foundation of the training and the relationship between the dog and the owner.
You wouldn’t try to cure pneumonia by treating symptoms, would you? Of course not. You want to go to the root of the problem and fix it from there.
The same is true with dog training. Before asking for tips you need to make sure your foundation is right. Do you have a dog that has been obedience trained? That is the first thing we do when fixing any problem is work on obedience. Have you worked on teaching boundaries? Have you worked on the relationship between you and your dog?
If not, THOSE are better questions to be asking. Ask ‘how can I get my dog to see me in more of a leadership role?’ Or ask, ‘I’m working on obedience but I can’t seem to get my dog to heel. What can I do to help fix that?’
Those types of questions show that you are working on the problem and have got stuck. Simply stating a problem and asking for tips doesn’t show initiative and it doesn’t show the mindset that is going to lead to a solution to your problems.