Happiness – Dog Training Should be Enjoyable

“Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness.”

So in recent weeks, I’ve been piling a lot of stress on myself, and my dogs while training. Working with some hard behaviour cases.

Quite frankly, the magic of working with dogs lost it’s spark just recently. I’ve been pulling my hair out with some training routines, and stubborn owners.

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This photo made me realise, that piling too much pressure on myself, my dogs and other peoples dog’s is just making it harder to train, not easier. This was taken in over a year ago, almost two. Back when I was still learning what I know now. This show’s my pure joy having taught my girl to find a suspect, then escort them off site. Simple for some, but for me a huge achievement since she’s only 10 months old. She is pure perfection here to me, and it made me think about how much pressure is starting to effect my happiness.

It led me to think about what we really want from dog training? Why train a dog? Why is there so much pressure?

What all dog owners want, is a happy life with their dogs. This means adding in training to get the behaviour we want, in order to be happy. For example, loose lead walking, toilet training, recall, and nice manners with people. Their all easy things to achieve, but if their not there things aren’t happy. Your walks aren’t enjoyable, that new puppy love wains fast when you step in yet another dog poo on your best rug.

You and your dog deserve to be happy, everyone does. Training, with or without a trainer can put a strain on your relationship. or lack of training too. Many people start to work with me and see great results fast, where as other dogs the issues run deep and need lots of hard work over a long period. These people can loose heart, and wonder if their dog will ever be like the Spaniel from across the street who walks to heel off lead.

Your happiness shouldn’t be based on what other owners can do with their dogs, but what you have achieved with yours. People come to me as a last resort, after Google or friends advice has failed often. They see my training as their last resort to be happy with their dog, training can be slow and stressful for both dog and owner.

Often it seem’s like your getting no where, but when they look back they see how far they have come.

The dog no longer jumps at guests, it no longer lunges at dogs on the street, no it’s not perfect as it still growls as they pass and chews the floor boards, but as things improve these other behaviours will too.

I’ve been here with my own dogs, I’ve cried about them. I’ve thought “What the hell am I doing” many a time, as my dogs are expected to be perfect because I’m a trainer. What I have forgotten, and what all dog owners forget is that dogs are their own being. They have their own thoughts and feelings, if they don’t like it, no matter how many treats you have their not going to go near it. They just don’t like it.

We all get frustrated and upset, it’s human nature. Our dogs should make us happy even with a few training quirks. Behaviour issues can be changed, they can be improved easily.

Your happiness can be too, just by realising things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Your dog isn’t the worst on the planet, and your not the most horrible owner. Call in help when needed, I do. When I get stuck on things because I’m too involved, I ask in someone for a third person perspective, I call in another dog trainer.

The spark is back, and passion to do things right and steady. Rather than pile on the stress to get things perfect. I know what I can do, I can tell you what each dog owner I meet can do upon my arrival, and what they can now do once I leave. It’s always progress towards the goal of happiness with their dogs.

It’s all easier said than done, and when in the moment, when you dog is barking at that other dog, and your flustered, the other owner is judging you. It’s hard to think of the happiness at the end of the tunnel. But it comes, and you won’t even notice. The day your dog walks past quietly, and greets another dog without barking is the happiest day you’ll have with them, it’s a demonstration of your training and work ethic.

A demonstration of your success into happiness, for not only you but also your dog. 

A happy owner has a happy dog, your dog feels your emotion. They love when your happy, and want to make your feel that way all the time. Dogs want to please you, we selected them to be that way, once you have owned a dog you never want to go back to life without  your dog as they make you so happy.

Training with you dog is a time to keep your bond strong, and spend time not worrying about the rest of the world. Just you and your dog, learning something as simple as sit, or something as complicated as dancing. What ever you choose to learn, it should be in a way that has an outcome that increases both your happiness.

If thing’s aren’t going to plan, and your feeling down about it. Question what your trying to achieve, why and how? Is their a better or different route. Take a step back, re-assess and start again. Maybe call in professional help, change trainers (Not all trainers suit each owner), ask friends or just take a breather chalk it up to a bad day.

Tomorrow is always another day. 

Quote – http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/happiness

 

 

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“Trained Dogs” – their dangers…..

So this post is more about the security side of my training, than pets… but the ideals still apply to both.

I attended a “Night Trails” evening recently, having never been before I wanted to go along and learn some more about working dogs, security, IPO and the such.

Putting a lot of the other issues aside, the most blaring problem I saw was that these “Trained Dogs” where out of control… they were, and ARE dangerous. 

To put it into context the trails required the handlers to perform tasks from obedience, retrieve and bite work under pressure from various scenarios. Now while I could not stay for the whole event (As it was started 2 hours late…) I saw enough to be shocked at the events that unfolded.

Handlers who could not hold their dogs, nor recall  them, dogs biting the handler, as well as setting on the judge while he was not even near the dog. These things are all handler errors! Either learned from terrible videos or bad trainers, as two examples.

The biggest issue with it was that about 90% of the handlers could not even get their dogs to release from the bite, a basic minimum in my books for safety. Should your dog bite someone in real life, at work or otherwise you should be able to out that dog on the spot, and then deal with what happened. Not what many were doing which was having to yank or choke their dogs off the decoy. It was appalling, and as a trainer and handler I cringed for anyone watching it and thinking it was correct.

These dogs are trained to bite and bite hard in most cases. Crazed to get to decoy and harm them, learning to go for hands which are often not protected or legs to topple the decoy, to get a better grip. Now I don’t know how many of these dogs were sports, personal protection or security dogs, nor whom or where they trained. BUT it would not be stupid to assume that where ever you train the dog should have basic control and safety.

Control and Safety! It should be a basic for any dog training, I had it drummed into me, and now I drum it into dog owners and handlers. The law is not on your side, should your dog bite someone you face big lash backs, should your dog bite someone and rip a chunk out after a 20 minute battle to get the dog off… well your facing prison time. Your dog will be destroyed, probably along with the rest of the dogs you own.

Their crime for the dogs….being owned by a complete and utter idiot! These competitions should be to show case the best of the best, not those people wanting to have a pissing up the wall competition at a standard not even above average. .

Now I come to the title “Trained Dog”… yes I have spouted it before about my own dogs (Seen Here), and now see fit to revise that title to my own dogs.. Yes they are trained, but in the right way (I won’t be removing the post as it’s still stands as correct at the time, and people learn from it). Trained does not make a dog safe or above the law. You ask any one of those handlers, and they would say my dog is safe because it is trained. But trained to do what? Bite, recall, heel, respect you, intimidate? Just because you can add the title “Trained” to your dog from a few sessions with a trainer, it does not make them above mistakes dog or handler started.

The viewing of such dangerous training, has made me re-evaluate the title of “Trained” as well as the dogs I have encountered while as a handler, and trainer.

It leads me on to any dog owner, who tout the term “Trained”, it does mean the dog will so the command every time. Yes my dogs are trained to walk to heel, and recall and do so 99% of the time, but their is always that 1%. That 1% is known as free will, the dogs have their own mind and learn associations, routines and the such without us knowing. An example of such is that my main 3 dogs all have a recall. they come with or without each other when called, now since I have added in a two year old rescue with unknown history this recall has changed, he is eager to come to me the other dogs hang back til he is gone to come to me. If I am not quick enough with the reminder to come their off again. It’s not because they dislike him or he is aggressive, its just a change in their routine and patterns, something they like to settle into at home. When on visits or work, they expect change. It’ll settle in time, but its something I am aware of and monitor to reduce the issues.

Other dog owner, might say “My dogs trained to walk to heel, off lead”, yes it is and that’s wonderful, well done you for putting that effort in to train your dog…but what are the factors of the 1% decision by the dog, this can include chasing, up to biting someone. The word “Trained” will not save you in a court of law without proof. I can add the limited title to my own dog as trained, as they are trained not to bite.

Any dog will bite, that’s natural, but training a dog not to bite, now that’s hard.

Training of such is known as an emergency recall or down, or part of the passive attack range. I have evidence, and can demonstrate it. It is something I won’t work a dog without. I need to know that should the worst happen, I can stop that dog.

These owners of “Trained” working dogs, have the wool over their eyes thinking “It won’t happen to me”….well sunshine it can happen to anyone.

Calling your dog “Trained” does not make it exempt, and it especially does not make it correct. Anyone can train a dog wrong, but only a few with the patience and knowledge can train the dog right. That’s why professional trainers exist, but just because you have a website or fancy dogs, it does not make you a trainer. Validation by standards set out by awarding bodies do. Such as the NTIPDU, Guild of Dog Trainers, and so on. Validation that your not a complete and utter frigging fool!

I can’t say all the dogs were untrained, or not up to standard, some did well and stood out from the chaff as under control. Those are not the people whom this rant is directed at.

In summary…… I’m appalled and disheartened by the total disregard and ignorance of basic safety, and control in working dog training. I also sincerely hope that I am never to be lumped in with those trainers, and handlers as a industry standard. I work to better that standard, and don’t deserve to lumped into that rubbish.

In note, this is just my view and opinion on one trails, and on a limited set of handlers. Things can be taken out of context, or miss read. I speak my mind, not gospel.

Below a photo of myself, and my girl. With the new title of “Trained Right, not Wrong”

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“Trained Right, not Wrong”