Owning a dog is something that most of us are pretty familiar with. Our dog experience shapes how we view our abilities with our dogs, how we interact with our dogs and others, and of course colors our expectations with our own dogs. You can have great dog experience even without owning a dog too, as most of us know friends or family who have a dog.
A lot of us have had dogs all our lives. We grew up with a dog, we had a dog in college, we got a dog before having children, or got one instead of having children. We got a dog to help ease loneliness, pain, give us a sense of security, bring us joy, be part of our family through life’s adventures. So how can all of this cumulative dog experience leave us high and dry when it comes to fixing issues with our dogs? Being good with dogs; shouldn’t this help with training too?
Dog experience =/= Training experience
Let’s dive a little more deeply into this. Like any other skill, taking care of a dog and training one is something that can be taught and learned. It improves with practice, but you have to be practicing the right techniques.
The types of experience you have matters as well. For example, I’m sure most of you know how to drive a car. Some of you may have multiple cars right now, and in general would feel comfortable driving a friend’s car in a familiar area. This doesn’t mean you’d be comfortable or capable of driving ANY vehicle. Driving an 18 wheeler, a racecar, or monster truck would likely be out of the question, if not give you a level of anxiety. It’s also safe to say that you’d not perform as well as someone who’d been doing it for years. Simply put, your experience doesn’t necessarily translate to all vehicles, even if it is fairly extensive.
On top of this, your history and experience does not make you a mechanic. Yes you’ve owned various cars all of your life, maybe even changed the oil, replaced a tire, headlights, or brakes. And this is great! However this experience isn’t enough when it comes to gaining the knowledge of how to rebuild a vehicle, or how to repair everything. You’ll not spontaneously learn how to diagnose every problem a car may have because of your amount of driving experience. You’re a good driver, but being a mechanic is an entirely different ball game. Without being taught these skills, you’ll remain out of your depth. It’s not your fault!
Training is teachable - Training is learnable
When working with a trainer, our job is to help you decipher your dog, to help you understand why things are going the way they are, and also get things on the right track. You play a pivotal role in all aspects of your dog’s life, including training. We’re here to help you learn, support you through the process, and ensure that we’re moving towards your goals! I’m your guide through your training journey with your dog.
I teach my clients my own skills so that they are able to not only work with their dog and fix issue with them, but also raise up better FUTURE dogs as well. Owners who work with a trainer are investing in the future quality of their lives and helping to ensure that the dogs in their lives are the best they can be. True life partners.
Because of the knowledge that I have, you’re able to avoid a plethora of pitfalls and mistakes that are commonly made by novices training their dogs. This really streamlines the process because you’re not stuck, you’re not Training Backwards.
The skills that I have are not some magic voodoo. I’ve learned them, refined them, and continue to hone them over the years. It’s not your fault that you don’t have this knowledge innately (none of us do) or that you’ve experienced issues with your dog that you don’t know how to address. It’s ok to be frustrated, overwhelmed, or even saddened and depressed about issues you might be facing with your dog. You’re not alone and frankly most of my students come to me when they’re in such a state and have reached their limit. AND IT IS OK.
It’s normal to have big feelings about things that are important to you, like the relationship between you and your dog and how that affects your life. It’s a big deal! This is your buddy who you love dearly, but you didn’t sign up for the issues that you’re facing. It’s ok to have feelings about that; our dog missing the mark on our expectations is frustrating and disappointing. Especially when it’s something that is overwhelming!
You're not a bad owner
We can’t have all the answers. Not knowing how to train your dog, not knowing how to deal with behavioral problems… No one ever taught you these things!! Not knowing something doesn’t make you a bad owner, or a bad person. I myself know next to nothing about rocket science, string theory, or nephology, but this doesn’t make me a bad person in any way. Just uneducated on those topics. The key here too is that at any point, I could choose to learn and start my new journey, just like you.
There is no shame in needing a trainer. You did not fail yourself or your dog by needing, wanting, or seeking out help. Quite the opposite actually. Getting help to makes things better is never a bad thing!