Your dog is a stinker – jumping at people, nipping [sometimes, really hard], not sharing toys, attacking the rake or lawn mower, going crazy over the vacuum or broom, pulling, barking, and lunging at people and other dogs… It’s frustrating and embarrassing, so you call a trainer for help. The trainer comes out, gets an idea about what’s going on, starts working with your dog, and lo and behold, the dog who never listens to you sits nicely, gazes into the trainer’s eyes, and waits for direction! You exclaim in surprise, “Who is this dog? I want this dog!” and you hire the trainer for more in-depth work.
But, here’s the catch: You have to do the work, too. You have to get committed and stay committed, no matter how many times the dog tests you – and they will, because, up to this point, he or she wasn’t taking you the slightest bit seriously. He knows exactly how many times you’ll try to correct or command him; she knows exactly how you’ll respond or react when she’s naughty. You’re going to have to work very hard to prove to your dog that you’re taking control, that the days of negotiating with them and giving in to them are over.
The trainer can help you with these things, but it’s not their responsibility to train your dog. It’s yours. If your dog is continuing to be a stinker in between your weekly lessons, you need to look at what you are doing – or not doing. Are you consistently working them on their lessons, or are you letting other things get in the way and making excuses for that? Are you regularly doing things that engage their brain and tire them out, or are you getting frustrated with them when they act out because they’re bored? What are you, the owner, doing to help them become their best dog self?
Having a well-behaved, happy dog doesn’t just magically happen. You have to work at it – and not just in group class or during private lessons. You have to work your dog every single day to reinforce those lessons. You can’t develop and build on bonds of mutual trust and respect if you’re not going to get committed.
Have a beautiful day, and remember: Stay calm, and lead on… 🙂