I have been lucky enough to work with my dogs in very diverse areas. Many dog trainers are bound by their training environment and their “business models” to work with their clients in a carefully proscribed series of steps that produce the “trained dog” that people have come to expect and recognize.
The “basics” of “come, down, sit, place, stay and off” are the end result of many of these programs and are, of course, super useful. When working in a clean, quiet, inside space with the correct tools and an available helping hand, these are not difficult tasks to teach, especially if the students signing on are mostly fairly stable and well-loved dogs.
I have worked in a few of these wonderful spaces and on a cold, windy, snowy, rainy or muddy day, remember them with wistful longing…
So, why do I say, lucky??? It has come to my attention that most dogs do not fall into a cookie cutter category and are as individual as the homes they come from. Sure, many of the same problems come up again and again, after all, how many ways can a dog misbehave?? Don’t answer that!
BUT it is my experience that the dog can only be as creative as his environment allows and it is so often the case that adjusting the environment is where most of the work occurs.
In my “business model” I like to see the whole picture in order to fully understand where the disconnect lies and what is really required of the student…and his owners.
Visiting people’s homes and having my “guests” come to visit me on the farm is a way to obtain far more information than spending time on the computer or on the phone listening to a long story.
Although I do have a nice enclosure and a lovely quiet space on the mountain, we do have chickens, rain, snow, mud, cats and washing blowing in the wind. I have two dogs of my own who always have a say in the proceedings and all kinds of distractions going on. If something is going to set a dog off, we can provide it!!
I have traveled all over this wonderful state and up and down the East Coast and am never quite sure of what is at the other end of my journey…
I have traveled all over this wonderful state and up and down the East Coast and am never quite sure of what is at the other end of my journey…could be a penthouse, could be a cabin in a holler but it is always an adventure.
Meeting people and their dog friends is fascinating and working in the “real world” is the BEST way to return your pupils successfully to their real world. The questions I like to ask people are mostly about what they would like to achieve from their dog training experience. Once I have heard the wish list, we can evaluate how realistic it is and how much success we are going to have achieving it. Sometimes, the goal is simply to stop someone’s Mother-in-Law from being knocked over at the front door every time she visits, sometimes it is to stop chasing the UPS Van or pushing the other dogs off their food. Whatever the main issue, it is only possible to work on it when it is occurring and often only possible to figure out what we are working on once we see it happening or the truth comes out..
Dog training has come to mean so many things to people and most trainers are pretty committed to pleasing their clients. The good trainer learns to ask the right questions, watch carefully and isolate where the primary disconnect is occurring. After the initial phone call the real work begins and the diagnosis can commence along with a workable plan and this is always made more clear by personal interaction with your clients. If the issues are occurring in the home, it is sometimes necessary to help people redesign their patterns to support a better relationship with their dogs. Sometimes the dog needs to be removed from his environment in order to rethink his position with his home pack.
Sometimes the dog needs to be removed from his environment in order to rethink his position with his home pack.
My current position is that dog training “on the road” whether it is with me in my daily life or meeting with clients so that we can work together on problem issues is the truly effective way to bring about positive and long-lasting change to a dog and his family.
I am so grateful to be invited to participate with people who love their dogs and are genuinely trying to find solutions. It doesn’t matter if they are in a suburb, a mansion or up on a mountain, these partnerships are each special and if we can find a way to form a connection with the dog in our lives, there is hope for us humans yet!!!
So, sorry covid, there are some encounters that are simply not effective on “zoom” and we will be braving the pandemic in order to meet face-to-face and do some “hands-on” healing…