The world is filled with people with good intentions who want to give you advise on what you are doing wrong. And most of these well-intentioned people also have perfectly behaved dogs that more often than not were born perfectly behaved. In their eyes dog training is a simple black and white world, and they look on the rest of us with bemusement, in awe of how clueless we all are!
There is a saying that those with a little bit of knowledge can answer a problem with a definitive answer, while those with lots of knowledge know there are twenty possible answers, all depending upon the variables. The more you know means that you are aware of the complexities and dynamics of the problem, and all of the possible solutions. The less you know- there is one simple solution that will fix the problem. Knowledge and expertise take your mind from seeing solutions as black and white, to a whole bunch of different shades of grey.
Givers of unsolicited advice are often black and white. They don’t know enough looking in from the outside to understand the complexities of your relationship (your skill, your dog’s breed, your dog’s and your past etc). Their answers are black and white, because their solution worked for their dog. But what worked for their dog, as lets say a work-ethic German Shepherd, might be disastrous for your Reserve-Rescue Collie X. Not all dogs and handlers are the same, and what works for one can expedite issues in another.
Just recently I was walking a client’s dog that was new to me. Some well-meaning passer-by wanted to pet him, and I politely said “no”. Shortly there after I got scolded by this man, told how he was an established breeder of this breed and that I needed to take charge and let people touch my dog or I would end up with aggression issues. I was also told that people ‘like me’ should not have this breed.
I politely smiled and acknowledged him, and kept doing what my dog needed to succeed this encounter. I knew my response was integral to his success. My smile and acknowledgment of the man told my dog that I had no ill-feeling towards him, and that I was comfortable in his presence. This was so very important for my dog because he would have responded with aggression had I given him the slightest inkling that this man was a jerk that just insulted me. My anger would have given my dog permission to “help”.
I am blessed to have the self-confidence that this man’s lecture and belittling of my skill didn’t even phase me. I took this as an opportunity to train my dog, and give him what he needed. However, many of my clients doubt themselves in such moments, and feel intimidated when confronted by someone with such experience and expertise. What we must always remember is that our well-meaning advisors do not know all of the details, and their unsolicited advice could be disastrous to us in that specific moment.
There are one thousand ways to train any single behaviour. But there might only be five ways that will work for that dog and that handler, in that moment. And some of the other successful ways of training that specific behaviour might actually be harmful for that dog and handler.
This was one of the reasons that I created my Training Forum on the website. It is a place where I can give my client’s the continuity of information that they need for them and their dog. While there may never be wrong solutions to dog training problems, there can be wrong solutions if that solution does not fit with the methodology of how that dog was trained, and fit with the personality type of the dog and handler.
When you are out with your dog always make sure that you and your dog get what you need. Don’t allow someone else’s expertise to make you doubt what you are doing (providing that what you have been doing has been working). And don’t allow strangers to bully you into situations that you know your dog cannot master. Rather, always take that moment in time to build your mental strength, and continue to do precisely what your dog needs, despite it perhaps being the opposite of what you are being pushed into doing.
We expect our dog’s to turn the other cheek when confronted with an inappropriate challenge. It is time for us handlers to learn to do the same and to smile sweetly and give our dogs the information and challenges that they do well with, rather than the information and challenges that other people push onto us.
Happy Training Everyone,
1633 Kangaroo Road, Victoria, BC
The Naughty Dogge is a dog training school located in Victoria, BC. We truly are dog-trainers and competitors, bringing out the best in any dog, regardless of breed and issues. That means we teach competitive agility, Competition Obedience, Retrain Dog Aggressive Dogs, Teach Puppy Classes and Pet Dogs to be perfect citizens, and work with behaviour problems. There is probably not an issue that we haven”t retrained! This newsletter is copyright to Monique Anstee, July 2012 and may be reprinted with full credit given to Monique Anstee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can contact us at 250.590.2664