I've loved dogs since I was a little girl. I've always had dogs. I chose to make dogs my profession. Not because it's lucrative (it isn't) or because it's easy (it isn't that either). But because I want dogs to have the most fantastic life possible.
Dogs don't get to choose where they live or how they're treated. They don't get any say in how -- or even if -- they're taught how to behave.
Their entire life is in the hands of their owner.
Think about that for a moment. Their entire life. Every decision. Every consequence. Not up to them.
I started my training career using old-fashioned methods: I used a choke chain, I scolded, I corrected. I would also use praise, too, but relied most heavily on "fixing" what the dog was doing wrong.
I earned my M.A. in psychology and in doing so was immersed in the laws of behavior and learning. With this knowledge, I realized every living being with a brain learns the exact same way:
We repeat what works for us. This changed the way I looked at my dogs.
I quit looking for (and correcting) what my dogs were doing wrong. And oh! Did I start having a much better time with my dogs! I began catching my dogs when they were doing things I liked. Turns out, they very often did things that were good, but because I was so busy looking for the bad things, I didn't even notice all the good.
I've sent silent apologies to all the dogs with whom I've crossed paths for the way I treated them back then. For the times when I didn't understand how to teach them what they needed to know. For the countless times I used corrections instead of instruction. For all the confusion they experienced because of my lack of knowledge.
Back then, I didn't know there was a better way. I was doing the best I could. That's what fuels me now. When we know better, we do better. My mission is to reach as many dog owners as I can and show them how they can love their four-legged best friend and have a great life together. And it's all about training.
So while I wouldn't trade this job for any other, when I see dog owners asking their friends for advice to fix their dog's problems and read answers like "squirt him with water," or "the electronic collar worked wonders," it makes my heart hurt. The dog isn't "being bad" on purpose. He's not trying to push the owner's buttons. There's almost always a reason for the behavior. Dealing with that bad behavior using corrections isn't fair.
The simple solution almost always involves teaching the dog to do what you want him to do. And very rarely is the solution to punish, correct, scold, or discipline.
Here's what I know: you love your dog. You don't want to do mean things to your dog, you probably just don't know what to do. In the absence of any other information, people resort to the one thing they do know: get rid of the bad behavior.
I'm here to tell you there is a better way. A way that will teach your dog what you want him to do. That in the very doing, will get rid of the bad stuff. You love your dog -- train him like you love him.
This blog is full of easy, fun, and effective solutions to problem behaviors. Take a look around. Leave a comment on a post if you have a question. I want to help you love your dog even more than you do already. A little training goes a long way.