I ask the question about having an untrainable dog, because it surprises me how many people I meet in passing who tell me about their dog’s behaviour as though it’s just something that they have to put up with (e.g. “Daisy jumps up at all of our visitors, it’s so embarrassing, we are constantly apologising for her, but that’s just the way she is”). Or tell me about what modifications they’ve made to their lives (e.g. “Rex chews the house up when we leave, so we very rarely go out now, and if we do we get a house sitter for the whole time we are gone”), or to their dogs (“so we had him castrated to calm him down, but that didn’t work”)… Any of this sound familiar? Perhaps one of your friends or colleagues talks about their dog like this…
I’ve also heard of people who have been told by other dog trainers, or vets, or breeders that they have an untrainable dog, due to its breed, or age, or some other inexplicable reason. (e.g. boxers are untrainable, Chocolate labradors are stupid, you can never let a husky off a lead – this is the subject of a whole other blog, to read it click here) It’s such a shame that there are so many opinions like this floating around that are just hearsay.
Fortunately for me, those who seek my help have decided to seek a second opinion, and DO believe that there is something which can be done to improve their dog’s behaviour. And what I love even more, is the owners who recognise that not only is their dog causing them some problems, it is also unhappy with the situation itself, so they want to improve it for their dog’s sake. Ultimately there is an underlying reason for a dog’s behaviour. The severity of the behaviour will vary from dog to dog, but the reason is there. If you remove that reason, then the dog will no longer need to do that behaviour, or do it to the level it is currently doing. E.g. a dog thinks a postman is a danger, you prove to your dog that you can be trusted to decide what is safe and what isn’t, and show your dog that you aren’t scared of the postman, then the dog will not be scared of it either. If you have tried to make changes like this, then it is more than likely that you aren’t yet doing enough in other areas to convince your dog that it can trust in your decision… Consistency is important, as is doing enough of the right things. Unfortunately, not all dog trainers know what the right things are yet!
If you want to help someone who believes that their dog is untrainable, then recommend to them that they read “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell, or get a local Dog Listener to help them. I am and Essex Dog Trainer, and as well as providing quality in home dog training in all of Essex, I also cover parts of London, Kent, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. For other dog listeners, see my Links page, click here.