People decide to adopt a dog, people choose the dog, people get the dog…
Sometimes immediately, sometimes way too late, they find a trainer or a puppy class and they expect you to show them how to train the perfect dog.
What is perfect, after all?
That is the first question I always ask them.
When you have an issue with your dog, or you are simply doing basic dog training with your brand new puppy, you need to know what success looks like TO YOU!
That only means that different dogs will have different personalities, characteristics, history, strengths, weaknesses and knowing your dog and having it clear to yourself what you expect your dog to achieve is the first step in training YOUR perfect dog.
Your Perfect is Not My Perfect
YOUR perfect dog, not THE perfect dog….
Because people’s ideas and expectations of what their dogs are supposed to do and be will vary drastically.
For example, a dog barking at the fence can be an absolute disaster to one dog owner, but the other one has had way too many break-ins in the past and that is exactly the quality he is searching for in a pooch.
In that matter, selecting the correct dog can be vital in defining whether you will be able to have the life you always wanted with your best friend.
I see this so many times and it absolutely breaks my heart every single one of them.
People adopt or buy a dog for its looks, without researching the breed and, then, spend years frustrated because they can’t seem to get the results they want or worse, surrender the dog.
Buying and 8 week old border collie or a labrador to your 94 year old dad who can’t walk is NEVER a good idea.
“They are such smart dogs”, they say… too smart then, maybe…
Do Your Homework!
You have to research before you get a dog!
You have to understand the dog’s exercise and mental stimulation needs and your ability to actually provide them with that in a satisfactory way. An under exercised or overexcited dog is almost physically incapable of listening to you, so the first step on how to train the perfect dog is to be sure your pooch is being correctly stimulated.
… if you have no idea what I mean by “mental stimulation”, then you REALLY need to so some research… (Or just follow me here, we will talk about this almost every post).
And when I talk about your ability to provide, I mean your time, your patience, your anxiety, your actual physical strength.
I see so many people with incredibly strong, huge dogs, who are kind but very excitable and they get so upset and so frustrated trying to train them. Holding a large dog is hard and you have to have in mind that, until you train them, you will have to hold. That is just how life goes!
Labradors are one of the most commonly misunderstood dogs. They are bought by people thinking of guide dogs, “they are so calm and obedient”. Guide dogs are trained by professionals from birth until they are two years old to be the dogs you see (and lots of them still get fired). Labradors are the happiest dogs on the planet, but, untrained, some of the craziest as well and definitely among the strongest.
So people romanticise, they think of how life will be when their dog is perfect… I want you to do the opposite, I want you to think of how bad it can get… can you handle that?
Cool, so now you are ready to get a dog…
Do What Needs To Be Done
So you have chosen your dog. You have:
- researched and found a breed suitable for your needs, your house and your strength.
- understood the dogs exercise and mental stimulation needs.
- made sure you will have the time, money, patience to educate your dog even when he or she is driving you nuts.
- organised physical space for the dog.
Now it is time to understand what type of training will be required to transform that little fluffy, furry diamond in the rough in the dog you want.
One thing that you must understand is that dog training is done everyday, in your daily interactions with the dog!
So there is absolutely no point in hiring a trainer or even going every week for one hour to puppy class, if you are not going to follow the instructions and make sure your dogs understand there are rules to be followed when they come to live in your house.
When you come to me and tell me that you hug your puppy when they are jumping and squealing and screaming in excitement when you get home from work (despite all advice against) because YOU WANT TO, but on the same day you tell me you want your dog to not jump on people and not to get so excited, there is simply nothing I can to for you.
So find out what you want from your dog, then to what needs to be done.
If you want a calm dog, you can’t reinforce excitement, you want a dog that comes back to you, you can’t let your thirteen week old puppy fly off the lead wherever they want to go, you want a dog that listens, you can’t give them everything for free.
Happiness is The Journey, Not The Destination
Having a dog is the best thing on earth.
They are the most loyal, loving, fun creatures I know (even though I also love cats <3).
But training doesn’t go in a straight line. There are going to be ups and downs, days when you feel like the best dog trainer in the world, days when everything goes wrong.
Some days you will cry, some days you will want to give them up (but you won’t), but you will always have by you side someone that loves you more than anything. And that is priceless!
So try to make it fun, enjoy every phase, celebrate your victories and take the defeats like a champ.
You are not going to get there, you are already there, happiness is the journey!