This is a post I originally meant as content within my website, but it turned into more of a blog quality post. I offer as much information as possible on my website to my potential clients, so they know what I expect from them as client. For the rest of the content on that page, click here. It is important for my clients, and their dogs, to obtain as much value as possible in the time we spend training together. Following these concepts will help any trainee on the road to success.
Dogs crave structure and leadership. Often bad dog behavior is described as if “it came out of nowhere”. The more likely truth of the matter is the dog was showing signs of anxiety and/or distress, without proper leadership and direction, well before the bad behavior became an evident problem to the owner.
Dog training is a process. Dog training includes people training. It takes twenty-one days for a human to make a habit of doing something. I ask my clients to adhere to a solid structured training plan for at least a month. My training plan includes sticking to commands like “place”, “down/stay”, and the structured walk to name a few, as well as crate training.
The reason for my training plan is twofold. The owner needs to establish a new habit of how to relate to their dog in the context of pack leadership, and the dog needs to recognize and be reminded where they rank in the pack until the household is calm and harmonious. Each dog varies on how quickly they adhere to the structure of a training plan. Each owner varies on how quickly and consistently they adhere to the training plan. I do my level best to only work with clients who are as motivated to work through their dog’s training plan as I am. Your dog is always ready for change and leadership. Always.
If you choose to make a habit of keeping your dog on command at all times unless your dog is resting in their crate, you are choosing to train your once unruly dog to behave as a calm family dog. When you choose to adhere to the training tools, and training plan, your dog’s behavior will improve. My method is proven and a viable option for people and their dogs struggling with some very intense behavioral issues.
I believe in order for all of this structure to be effective we need to stay in touch with our very human emotional side. "Checking in" with ourselves is crucial. By “checking in” I mean that when feelings arise which conflict with the training plan, we should take the time to analyze why for example, your dog being in "place" is making you feel like your dog shouldn’t be in “place”. Why do you feel like your dog “looks bored”, “feels lonely”, “looks sad”. Keep in mind that feeling any of those feelings, boredom, loneliness, and sadness are all human emotions we are choosing to put on our dogs.
Take a moment to consider how you think your dog feels when he/she barks at the door, jumps on guests, bites people, growls, or lunges at other dogs, barks in the crate non-stop, races around your home chasing your cat, meanders around your home marking your furniture, guarding resources, or chewing up your personal items. Do you honestly believe your dog is happy in that state of mind? If the answer is yes, I am not the dog trainer for you.
A calmly behaved family dog does not respond with the bad behavior I have just described. If you do not have a calmly behaved dog at this time, and you are working your way through a training plan by using the tools and plan provided by your dog trainer I have a four suggestions.
1. Stick to the training plan provided by your dog trainer.
2. Stick to using the tools provided by your dog trainer.
3. Perform a regular emotional “check in.” It is totally human and normal to feel confused and frustrated. You are not alone. If you take a moment to define “why” you feel the way you do, you can ultimately identify if your feeling is based in logic or if it is one of emotion. A note of caution, if your emotional life decisions are leading you to a life of disharmony with your dog, you will need to reconsider your emotional decisions and begin to add logical decisions in order for real change to occur. If you choose to not change your behavior, it is unreasonable to expect your dog’s behavior to change.
4. It is totally OKAY to speak up for yourself if you decide you have selected a dog trainer which is not able to accomplish the training you would like along with the method you were hoping for. Often when we live in disharmony with our dogs we find other relationships we initiate are not harmonious either. In theory, your dog trainer should bring peace and harmony to your pack. If that is not the case for you, speak up and exit the working relationship.
Providing your dog with structure and leadership is one of the most humane gestures you can demonstrate. If you or someone you know is struggling with their dog's behavior I highly recommend reaching out to a balanced trainer today. Dogs are always ready for change, and leadership.