Can a dog trainer
“fix” your dog?
The simple answer is ‘No’.
MARK SINGER — ADI Dog behaviroural Specialist with 40 years of experience will help us to understand the reasons.
I like to simplify as much as possible when I am with clients to help them under stand their dog better. One of the major hurdles most dog owners come across when I am assisting them to work through modifying their dogs behaviour is breaking free of their own overly emotional view of their relationship with their dog, and then remaining consistent with this new way of relating to their dog.
When working on modifying a dogs behavioural, it’s never just about the dog. A dogs relationship with its owner cannot change unless the owner changes their relationship with their dog. Too many dog owners that have dogs that are misbehaving are too focused on blaming the dog, and not looking at themselves and how they are relating to their dog. Too many are more concerned about their own emotional needs than fortheir dogs environmental, instinctive and social needs. What makes us feel good emotionally, is not always what’s best for our dog.
My job as a dog behaviour specialist is about understanding the human and dog bond/relationship, and passing this information on to my clients. I spend more time explaining to my client their role in maintaining a balanced relationship with their dog, than actually focusing on trying to so-called “fix” their dog. Its not the dog that needs to be fixed, in most cases it’s the dog owners relationship with their dog that needs fixing/adjusting.
Those that cannot let go of their own deep seated emotional needs tend to blame the trainer/behavior specialist for not fixing their dog, and therefore feel they have wasted their money. This is why I will never offer a ‘guarantee’ that I will fix your dog, as I can’t. In most cases, its the relationship between the dog and dogs owner that is broken, and only one person can fix this… the dog’s owner. All I can do as a trainer/behaviour specialist is guide the dog’s owner, by explaining why their dog is behaving the way it is, and explain and demonstrate how to get their relationship back on track. It’s the dog owners responsibility to follow through with this advice, it’s not the trainers role to fix the clients dog for them.
This is one reason I don’t offer board and train, as its more likely than not, that no matter how much work is put in by another trainer to modify a dogs behavior, the dog already has strong learnt behaviors that are triggered by just being back with its owners and in its familiar environment. The trainer sends the dog back home, and in most cases, if the dogs owner does not change their relationship with their dog, because they fully expected the dog trainer to “fix” their dogs problems, and the dog reverts back to its old behaviours once home, the dog trainer is usually blamed for not fixing their dog. Board and train can only work, if once again, the owner is willing to take responsibility for their relationship with their dog when it returns home.
So many dog owners have trouble understanding or accepting this and therefore want the work done for them. They see modifying their dogs behaviour as no different to sending a carto a mechanic to fix it. It’s the trainer’s job to service and fix their dog (and it should be covered by warranty). Even some parents are now too busy blaming the teachers, government or society for their misbehaving children, and not taking on the role of being a responsible parent themself. Somebody else should do the work for them.
I am not for one moment suggesting not to try board and train, just remember though, your responsibility for your dog does not stop with the trainer. Just as a child’s behaviour does not stop with the teacher.
Taking on the role of being a dog owner means taking on the responsibility of understanding your dog. It‘s not your dogs role to try and understand you. It’s not your dogs role to fill an emotional void or need. Certainly love your dog, but not to the detriment of its instinctive needs. I can honestly say, even with all the love and affection in the world, but without consistent rules and boundaries, you will never guarantee a well balanced and well behaved dog, and certainly not a respectful relationship with your dog.
Dogs instinctively seek consistent guidance, they thrive on rules and boundaries. Dogs feel more secure when they know and understand their boundaries. The bond between owner and dog is strengthened when the dog is looking for and receiving consistent guidance from its owner. So please, never expect a dog trainer to fix your dog, their role is to guide you on how to have the best and most fulfilling relationship with your dog. Don’t expect any dog trainer to put all the work into your dog, and then expect your dog to be fixed “for” you; Its up to you. ment of its instinctive needs. I can honestly say, even with all the love and affection in the world, but without consistent rules and boundaries, you will never guarantee a well balanced and well behaved dog, and certainly not a respectful relationship with your dog.
Give your dog, companionship, love AND (consistent) leadership, and your dog WILL reward you with total loyalty.