Category Archives: Housetraining
Years ago, before my life as a dog trainer, I had a wonderful but very mischievous dog named Jake. Now, looking back I can tell you he was wonderful. At the time, I thought he was miserable. He ate everything, wasn’t house trained, and ran away every chance he had. At one point I actually contacted a rescue organization to give him away. He was driving me crazy.
When Jake was 2 I started working with a professional dog trainer. I didn’t have very high hopes. But I figured that I would at least start Jake off with the basics while I tried to find a good home for him.
The trainer told me to put Jake in a crate when I wasn’t home. I didn’t agree with that.
The trainer told me to use a training collar on Jake. I didn’t like those.
The trainer told me to walk Jake and practice his commands 2 x per day for 20 min each time. I was too busy.
After 4 weeks of dog training classes Jake showed no significant signs of improvement in his behavior. He still ate everything. He still was having accidents in the house. And he still ran away.
After that 4th lesson I finally “got it”. Who did I think I was anyway? I chose to have this dog. Jake could have gone to any number of other families and yet I was the one who claimed him. I was about to uproot this young lab who knew no other life than with me and throw him into a system with no guarantee that he would find a new home or that he would even survive! And yet I refused to do the few things that the professional recommended? All because I didn’t agree with or understand what the trainer was trying to teach me. And I was qualified to have these opinions how? Wow. How dare I!?
So, I signed up for another round of private dog training lessons and started to apply what the trainer was teaching. I crated Jake, I used the collar and I practiced every day. It wasn’t easy. I had to work hard to give up my “know-it-all” attitude. But now, the rest is history. Jake became a wonderful dog. I loved having him in my life and loved being able to give him a great life filled with of all of the freedoms that he deserved.
Dog training with a professional is not like going to a buffet. You can’t say “I’ll take a little of this and a little of that”. It’s all or nothing.
I now understand the real reasons why dog training doesn’t work. If you want it to work for you and your dog:
1. Follow the trainers instructions. All of them. Don’t just pick and choose which one’s you’re going to try.
2. Ask questions if you don’t fully understand how or why
3. Find a new trainer If you’ve been doing EVERYTHING that the trainer recommends and don’t see a marked improvement in a few weeks it’s time to move on. No, not all behaviors can be fixed. And certainly some behaviors take longer to change. However, you should feel like you and your dog are on the right track and see at least some level of improvement in a relatively short period of time. I was fortunate to work with a very talented, experienced professional trainer. Not all trainers are the same, have experience, or are comfortable working with all people and dogs. If you don’t feel as if you have more control of your dog right away start searching for a better qualified professional.
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