In this post, I’d like to talk about components of who your dog is. Incorrect thinking on this topic is a trap that I fall into somewhat frequently, just because my overall job as a trainer is to modify a dog’s behavior to reflect what the customer is paying for and what I want for the dog.
But training is just one component of your dog’s overall behavior. It might be the most important component at some times, but it isn’t always. I’ve never made an exhaustive list of every component that I can think of, but you need to consider things like nutrition, exercise, relationship with the owner, supervision, and the amount of affection the dog is getting. Some of these things are directly related to training quite a bit; the better a dog walks on a leash, for example, the easier it is to exercise them.
With so many components, training is just one piece. If you have training but no nutrition, that’s a problem. Training without supervision can be a big problem. So there are big limitations to my job. As someone who really wants to please my clients, this is very hard to swallow. A client may break these rules, and not always necessarily because they want to do so. Perhaps their schedule is so busy that they don’t have time to exercise or supervise their dog, but they still want their dog to be well-behaved.
And I want to be able to give that to them! But at the end of the day, whether or not you use a professional trainer or train your dog using books and videos, what you do during training sessions is only one piece of the puzzle. You have to consider all the other components that go into your dog’s behavior if you want a well-rounded, organically trained companion.
Those are just a few of the components that came to my mind, and all of them play into your dog’s behavior. Think of them as you strive to improve. Are the problems you’re currently having a result of the failure of your training, or of some other component?