There are some jobs that no matter the results, the people get paid. For instance, we all know that if we see a doctor and we remain ill, he still gets paid for his time and efforts. If you see a therapist and are still troubled, he still gets paid for the sessions to which you went. When you pay me, you pay for my time and effort spent with your dog and my knowledge, expertise and hands-on skills. But, when it comes to obtaining results, much like taking the doctors advice and doing the things the therapist asks, this is where you and I need to work together. I can produce results from your dog. But, in order for you to achieve the same results, you need to participate. You need to read the handouts provided to you, you need to watch the videos I send, and you need to practice what I show you over and over again to learn the hands-on skills. You need to put in the time, the effort and bring the enthusiasm and care to your dog during training time,.
It is said that “training is in the environment.” The training that your dog receives from me does not live inside the dog. and remain there for you whenever you want to access it. Behavior changes with each interaction and each environment the dog experiences. When I am with your dog, I am all in. Everything I do is to achieve the most change in behavior as fast as possible, which means that I reward almost every single thing the dog does that I like. I spend the time focused on your dog, knowing that the more I can help him do the right things, the more rewards he will get and the stronger and more frequent the behaviors I am training will occur.
I don’t usually feel frustrated or angry or disappointed in your dog’s behavior. I don’t try to figure out why the dog does what he does. I focus on what I want to achieve and I reward that, a lot. I leave handouts because some people learn through reading. The handouts serve to fill in whatever you may have missed during our time together; or if I am training your dog without you present, they help you understand what I am doing during the videos and direct you on what you should do with your dog. The videos are provided (or taken by you) because some people learn by watching. They also serve as proof that I worked with your dog and am achieving results. I talk to you in the videos. The videos are also valuable, as you can save them and use them later for another dog if you like, or use them to review things you slacked on.
It is my job to deliver information to you and the dog. I am a teacher and a coach in the subject of dog behavior. I will repeat myself. I will make things simpler. I will alter my usual routine if I feel it will help. My job is to teach you skills to manage your dog’s behavior and to advise you about things you may not know about dogs. I will do my best to motivate you to work with your dog. To try again. To keep going. What isn’t mine, is the responsibility for what happens to your dog’s behavior after I stop seeing your dog or even between sessions. The dog belongs to you and so does the responsibility for his behavior. If you don’t understand something I show you, I will keep teaching you until you get it., but there is nothing I can do if you do not put my advice in place and you do not practice the training.
I have heard every excuse in the book. I know when a client is exaggerating, lying and avoiding answering a question. I know who reads the handouts and who watches the videos. I know who really wants a well-behaved dog and who just wishes for one. I know when people lie to themselves because they are too busy to have a dog, yet they do. I know why people tell me their dog gets plenty of exercise, but it never leaves its property. I know that many people simply have a dog they are not equipped to handle. I know when people have too many dogs. I know when people really don’t want their dog anymore but can’t say it out loud. I know when a client just wants me there to listen to him complain. I know that when a client is upset it isn’t always about the dog in the room. I know when possessing a dog is soothing a need in the human, but the human doesn’t even know it. I know when a client gets a puppy to lessen their pain of losing their other dog. I know when people try to recreate a cherished memory by getting another dog to be just like the previous dog. People get dogs for many reasons, but the only good reason to get a dog is because you like dogs and want to spend time with a dog doing dog things.
One time in a weak moment, I spent $1000 on a diet plan. I allowed myself to fall for the talk and the testimonials. The salesman said everything I needed to hear and I wanted to lose weight without doing the actual work sooooo badly, I was willing to spend the money. The plan was for 2 weeks. I made it 6 days and couldn’t do it anymore. I knew that if I followed the plan, I would lose the weight, but I couldn’t do it. It was too many pills and potions at too many times and was too specific about what I could eat and when. And, I was STARVING!! I didn’t ask for my money back or even blame the salesman. I blamed myself for knowing better and dishing out the money for something that I already knew how to do. It’s no secret. Eat less and exercise more.
So here is the secret to a well mannered dog…..
First, only get a dog if you have the time, money and energy to care for it properly.
Second, choose a dog that is right for you -don’t try to squeeze a square through a hole. If you aren’t going running, don’t get a Weimeraner. If you have never had a dog before, don’t get a Malinois. If you want to take your dog everywhere, don’t get a Bulldog! It’s too hot here.
Third, you must be honest about what your dog needs and then you need to meet its needs immediately and continually. If you do not train it when you first get it, it will develop behavioral problems and problems never get better by waiting longer to deal with them.
Fourth, do not hire someone to do what you should be doing. There is no magic in the expensive board and train places. They spend A LOT of hours with your dog and deserve to be paid, but you won’t get what you pay for -YOU didn’t do anything. If you want a well-socialized dog, don’t drop it off at the daycare around the corner, because there is nothing good or social about 40 dogs running around with no purpose in an enclosed space all day with a person supervising them who has no particular knowledge about dog behavior or the care of dogs. Quality care is something you must pay real money for and in order to influence your dog, you must spend time with it.
Fifth, do not blame your dog or your dog trainer or dog walker or dog daycare person or anyone else who handles your dog for you, if the dog does not please you and your wishes for its behavior. It is YOUR dog.
And lastly, when all else fails and you are unhappy or sick of the dog or need to “get rid of” your dog for any number of made up reasons - please do not dump it on some poor, generous rescue organization with no money, no resources and too many dogs already in their care. If you bring a dog into your home and do not care for it properly, it is your responsibility to figure out what to do with it when you realize you made a mistake.
I love helping dogs and people. I will go to the ends of the earth to help someone who admits to a lapse in judgement or admits to being lazy or admits to simply not knowing any better. I will not work very hard to help someone who got a dog he shouldn’t have, for not taking care of it and for not providing for its needs. oh…and for goodness sake, I will help you when you ask for it, but if I help you, you better listen to me! Good coaches know who is coachable and who is not!