As “National Train Your Dog Month” comes to a close again this year, I’m reviewing the comments and questions below our daily Training Tip posts on Facebook. The overwhelming majority of comments were positive and the questions gave us great ideas for future posts. Thank you to everyone who participated.
There were a few negative comments, which is to be expected on social media. The fact that they were negative didn’t bother me. It was the thought process behind that negativity that compelled me to write this.
Teaching a new behavior takes time, patience, empathy and skill. Ask any schoolteacher and I’m sure they would agree. Now, consider that your student is an entirely different species who can’t speak your language, has a completely different set of social norms, and never received a translated copy of your house rules. How much patience and empathy might you need now?
It isn’t fair to set out to teach another being, human or pet, by considering only your needs or timeframe. My dogs did not come knocking on my door to live with me. I chose to bring them into my home and my fast-paced human world full of deadlines, digital apps and instant gratification. The thing is, my dogs aren’t programmable computers and they don’t have a two-day guarantee like products on Amazon.com. Dogs live in an analog world, which happens to be one of the many reasons I find them so cool!
Unfortunately, there are people who don’t realize their dogs can’t perform the same way their smart phones do. These humans have become so accustomed to almost instantaneous results that training their dog frustrates them. They don’t allow enough time and repetition for their dog to properly learn a new behavior. This causes the humans to give up, blame the dog or even surrender their pet because it’s “stupid,” “stubborn,” or, my personal favorite, “untrainable.”
Training is a process; a journey you take together as a team. It enriches your relationship and strengthens your bond. When you and your dog begin to communicate with one another and actually understand each other, there is nothing like it. The level of mutual trust and devotion that develops is amazing!
Dogs allow us to take a step back from all of our gadgets and demands and remember that the best part of life actually exists in spite of all that. The time I spend training and having fun with my “analog” dogs is worth more than all the Amazon packages in the world!
Tiffany Lovell, CSAT, CPDT-KA, AAI, operates Cold Nose College, Space Coast, Brevard County, Florida and offers force-free, humane training and behavior consulting. Private in-home coaching & training, separation-anxiety training (local & remote to anywhere in the U.S.) and behavior consults. (321) 757-2059; coldnosecollege.com