Let’s talk about dog training and how it actually works.
What do you mean, you might think? I hire the trainer, and the dog gets fixed. Problem solved.
Well, not really.
First of all, a very common thing we see as dog trainers is that dog owners are not proactive when it comes to dog training. We wait until there is a problem, and THEN we start training. That actually is a bit backwards, because now we have to un-learn bad behaviours and teach good behaviours on top of them.
Here’s a nice saying I heard in the No Bad Dogs podcast of Tom Davies:
Bad dogs NEED training. Good dogs DESERVE training.
Training isn’t just there to solve an issue, it’s also a huge relationship builder and gives your dog a sense of purpose in his day-to-day life.
Now, let’s say you have a dog that jumps on guests and is overexcited every time he sees a dog.
You hire a trainer. The trainer then explains what is actually going on in your dog’s head. Why he does this and not that, what is needed to change, techniques that may be beneficial. Often the dog trainer will then demonstrate how they would do it and then it’s your turn to have a go. You’re excited, it’s working! My dog is fixed!
Once you get home, it goes pretty well for a week. Maybe 2. But then we go on holiday, or it gets really busy at work or you were very tired and just couldn’t be bothered. Life happens. And your dog goes backward again.
How is this possible? I trained for 3 hours with this trainer and paid them X amount of money and my dog is STILL doing it. That trainer didn’t even do their work. Right?
Let’s have a look at it from a different perspective.
You want to lose weight. 25 kgs. You hire a personal trainer. Your PT works with you 1x a week, provides you with coaching, a meal plan that you have to follow and stick to, and also creates a workout plan.
You have to STICK with it and do the homework. No one EVER would go to a PT for 1 or 3 hours and then say ‘Hey, I didn’t lose the 25 kgs, it’s YOUR fault.’
No, what we do instead is look at ourselves. Did we not follow the meal plan? Or were we slack and only trained 1x instead of the 4x the PT told you to do?
You do not hire a personal trainer and say ‘Give me the body and the muscles’. You say: Teach me how to do it, so I can keep it up.
Just because the PT already has the body and the muscles, doesn’t mean you will get it without putting any effort in.
See, the same is with dogs. Just because the dog trainer can do it, doesn’t mean you can do it after only 1 hour.
It is YOUR JOB to do YOUR homework. It’s not your dog that’s stubborn or doesn’t want to learn. It’s not your trainer's fault your dog is still reacting on dog walks because your schedule was too busy to walk the dog and you didn't get any training in.
We are there to help you. We give you the tools and the guidance so you can be successful on your own if you give it a go.
Even if you bring your dog to a Board & Train or a bootcamp program. This is where the trainer does the grunt work. We do the endless repetitions to make your life easier. But you will have to keep up the maintenance. Because if you work with a PT for 3 weeks straight and you stop after those 3 weeks and go back to those old habits? What will happen? You gain back all that weight.
We have to look at dog training as a mental mindset. Something you put your mind to, and have to stick with.. just like going to the gym or learning a new instrument.
Dog training isn’t like bringing your dog to the garage and having them come out 3 hours later and installed a new part and your dog is fixed.
We are not car mechanics, we are trainers.
Let’s say a dog lives 10 years. That is 86700 hours.
If you hire a trainer for 3 hours of your dogs life, that’s only 0.003% of his life. You can not expect that just 3 hours of work, is going to fix your dogs problems.
We, the dog trainers, sometimes only see the dogs for that amount of time. So the rest of the hours, those are yours to fill in.