I recently lost a customer, as after thinking about what I’d described when he booked his consultation, (it’s owner training whereby I, for a very affordable price, equip you with all the information you need to overcome this problem, and provide you with unlimited back up support by phone and email) this person decided that their dog was the problem, and therefore it was the dog that needed training, not them.
And I can see how easy it is for them to think this. This dog came to them from rescue, and had had a difficult start to life. They’ve had dogs before and haven’t had any ‘problems’. I understand their perspective, and if their minds are made up that I can’t help their dog by helping them, then so be it. But this got me thinking that more information might be required for those of you who are still weighing up your options as to why I would be insistent in this type of situation that it was them I need to train, rather than their dog?
Why CAN’T I just train the dog?
Well first of all, let’s think about the alternative. As getting a dog to change it’s ways isn’t an overnight fix, it requires ongoing, consistent action – if I was to train their dog, without their involvement, I would have to have their dog living with me, and spend a lot of time building the dog’s trust in me, to then be able to work with her on the particular problem in question. I would estimate that it would take around a month or so at least before the problem was lessened. The problem would be lessened because the dog had learned to trust my decisions about these situations, and rather than go to her default behaviour, look to me for mine, and see that I feel relaxed about it and so can she.
So after this month or so (which would obviously need to be very expensive, for me to be able to afford to devote this time to their dog), I then give the dog back to the owners, who then pick back up where they left off. Their dogs has not gained any more respect for them – and isn’t being led by them to make the correct decisions in the problem area – because they haven’t shown her the same messages I have, so she will go back to it’s default behaviour when the situation arises. Owners then claim that my training hasn’t worked. In their minds that’s my fault, not theirs, because they don’t need any training themselves. The dog is the problem, the problem is not fixed – I’ve ripped them off!
What happens when I train the owner instead?
For a modest fee, I could have trained the owners to do what I would be doing in the hypothetical situation described above, (how to build their dog’s trust in them, and follow their example, rather than her own default behaviour) and they spend that time working with her through what I’ve taught them, for a fraction of the cost of me doing it for them. So she builds her trust in her owners (rather than with me), and learns to trust their decisions in the problem area – allowing herself to be led by them, and eventually her behaviour improves. They have my support by phone and email for however long this takes at no extra cost. What a bargain!
What if this problem is beyond my abilities?
This really shouldn’t be the case. As long as you can be stubborn and follow instructions patiently, then you can help your dog to get through any behaviour problem with my support. If you are not prepared to do the work, then it will not work, but there is nothing within ‘the work’ which will be beyond your physical capabilities.
Yes dogs can come to you with problems. Just the same as if you were a foster parent and a child came to you, it would most likely come to you with problems. If I was to foster a child, I would expect to have to work with that child, so that we could overcome the challenges they had come with together. Rather than sending them off somewhere else for rehabilitation. They are going to be my responsibility, they need to be able to look to me for support and trust that I won’t let them down (like they have been let down in the past), so they would still test me when they got back.
Fortunately the vast majority of people who enquire and book with me are open minded enough to accept that they will need to change their ways in order to help their dog to change its behaviour. You and your dog are a team, a pack. You cannot change one member of the pack, without giving them different signals.
If you and your pack and ready to learn what you need to know to change the behaviour of your dog, then please give me a call!