This is Not Hogwarts and I am Not Dumbledore: Sharing the Load of Training Your Dog
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
I am a huge Harry Potter nerd, I even own a couple magic wands. But as hard as I try, I'm no wizard or magician. Believe me if I could use one of these wands to make all dogs behave how they should I would, because then shelters would empty and dogs would live happier lives. However I can't do that. And neither can you. What we can do is work together for the common goal of you having the best dog you possibly can.
Notice my choice of words there? WE can do, you and I together. I see your dog once a week for an hour, you live with them 24/7. Even in a board and train situation, I get your dog started on basics in an environment that is foreign to them. They can be incredible in this environment and go home and fail quite quickly because much like humans, if you don't use it you lose it. (This is why we add 4 follow ups to our Homeschool program, to insure you know how to duplicate our results back home.) If they go from having boundaries and knowing their choices have consequences to a free for all back home, they will revert. Every time. That is the keystone of my training programs, the dog always has a choice. However he is not free from the consequences of those choices. I do not, nor do i aspire to, train robotic obedience. I want a dog that is choosing of his own free will to work with me, not because I forced him to listen to me or else. This should be your goal as well.
Believe me, I get it. As a working mom, time is short! I home school our 6 year old daughter, as well as caring for our 4 personal dogs, up to 4 client dogs, and do private lessons. It is easier to come home and think "I just can't, sorry dogs". Try not to think of it that way. Train yourself to think "I GET to train my dogs" instead of "I HAVE to train my dogs". Also realize, you don't have to carve out an hour a day for training. 15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening will do wonders! Think of any interaction with your dog as a chance to train. Are they doing something I want them to do right now? Great! Let's reward that with attention and praise! It's easy to nag our dogs when they misbehave and ignore them when they are being good, so then your dog thinks they must act out to get your attention even though it's negative. If they aren't doing something you want them to be doing, learning opportunity! Why not take that moment to show them what you do want, and reward that, rather than ignore or scold the "bad" behavior? Dogs are amazing, but they are not born perfect. Like our children they need to learn right from wrong and what is expected of them. If you do not give your dog boundaries and expectations, they will not respect you and your relationship will be majorly out of balance.
Training is only successful if you stick with it. Make it a habit, a part of your routine. Don't get into the mindset it has to be boring or a long process. Any work is better than none at all. Little victories ARE worth celebrating. I can promise you this will strengthen your relationship and your dogs life. Its a blessing to have the opportunity to train our dogs how we would like them to behave and bring out their best side. A saying in dog training, "Train the Dog in Front of You". Your dog is an individual, and there is no one stop, cookie cutter method to train them. Be wary of any trainer who guarantees a quick fix, you are working with a living being and as such it is impossible to really make these claims. Ultimately you know them a million times better than I do, and we're counting on you to do your part. Good luck out there!
For the Dogs,