I cannot train a dog to be a happy healthy pet without the owner’s support and co-operation. The biggest mistakes in trying to train a dog are owner behaviors described below. If you want to have a well trained and mentally healthy dog, please avoid becoming any or all of the dog owners I describe below.
The Pest- This owner spends most of the time reassuring the dog that they are foremost in the owner’s mind. In public, you’ll hear them calling to the dog every time the dog gets interested in something, just in case the dog forgets that they are still there. This owner generally gets ignored.
The Living Treat Bowl – This is the owner who believes that dogs should be allowed to express themselves and rewards the dog constantly for everything. The dog gets treats for urinating, waking up, eating, smelling or simply breaking wind. Telltale signs of this owner are a fat dog wearing a pretty bow, being walked on a retractable leash and leading the owner wherever the dog takes him. You’ll also probably find dog books on their coffee table with titles like, “Purely Positive Dog Training”. This is the owner that gets ignored unless there’s something to eat….and it better be good!
The Human Puppy – This is the person who is concerned that if they impose too many rules on the dog, the dog won’t love them. The dog sleeps in the owners bed, is fed from the table and demands constant attention. In the absence of rules, the dog constantly stumbles through life testing, unsure and sadly neurotic.
The Dog Nazi- This is the owner who is so busy making sure the dog “knows” who’s the leader that they have a robot rather than a loving pet. They are very much on the harsh side and will employ any means to force the dog to obey. Generally they begin “training” the dog harshly at a tender age, thereby instilling a life-long training aversion. They tend to insist on obedience, but not mutual respect. Consequently, this is the owner that a dog will relish playing the frustrating “You Can’t Catch Me Game”, in public. Why would the dog want to come and be abused? The dog is much too busy experiencing a moment of freedom.
The Cat Person- This is the owner that is genetically programmed to never have a dog. For some unfathomable reason they decided to adopt a dog after years of living with a beloved cat. NEWS FLASH….cats and dogs are decidedly different. Because your cat curled up on your lap and purred while you stroked her, don’t expect your six month old Border Collie to want to do likewise. There are dog people and cat people. Please don’t torture yourself and ruin a good dog by trying to turn him into a pussycat. Your dog will not respect you.
The Clueless Expert-This is encountered more in non-dog owners than actual owners. This is a person who has accumulated self-proclaimed brilliant insight into canine behaviorism by a mix of watching Oprah, Animal Planet and avidly skimming old articles found in a Reader’s Digest kept in their basement. They know everything about training dogs and will instruct both you and your professional trainer as to a better approach. They tend to gather at parks, coffee houses and other public venues dispensing ignorant advice.
The Sloth-This is the owner who is too lazy to ever train a dog or other living creature. They will animatedly recite all the bad behaviors the dog presents and recite all the various remedies they have tried. The trainer will show and tell them what to do which will generally require work on their part. The training fails because actually performing work to train their dog is like asking a pig to fly. You can generally recognize the Sloth by his blaming the dog, the trainer and everyone but himself. An additional clue is that if there are children in the home, they are usually as ill mannered as the dog.
The Seduced by Authority-This is encountered when the owner asks his vet/groomer/dog-walker, etc. , questions about dog training. Often this type of owner is confused by association versus knowledge. Because your Vet has been to college and successfully neutered thousands of dogs does not make them any more knowledgeable about dog behavior than the average ignoramus (please refer to the Clueless Expert). Many of my clients are Veterinarians that are excellent animal doctors but woefully ignorant as to how to make a dog sit. If you want to correct a canine medical issue, ask your Vet. If you want to address dog behavior, ask a dog trainer. You can easily recognize this owner due to their irrational tendency to explain their dog’s bad behavior by prefacing their statements with the phrase, “But my Vet said…..”.
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