From Alpha to Understanding: A Dog Trainer's Journey
Lessons From a Dog Trainer: How I Got in My Own Way

“Why?” And Other Questions To Ask When Training Your Dog

By Published On: 2013-02-17579 words2.9 min read
“Why?” And Other Questions To Ask When Training Your Dog

As a society, we are usually taught to follow what others tell us. Following the rules as they are laid out is favoured to critical thinking. When we’re told that drinking two cups of milk every day is necessary for good health, we do it. And then 6 months later, when a new study comes out that says dairy is bad, drinking wine is good, we drop dairy and pick up wine. Then six months after that, another study comes out that says only red wine is okay and a little dairy isn’t so bad after all so, again, we change our habits.

It seems that asking questions and formulating our own opinions about what is right, wrong, good or bad for our own selves is frowned upon more than it’s admired or encouraged.

When it comes to dogs, over and over I hear clients say to me, “But aren’t we supposed to [do this, say that, make my dog do X, Y or Z]? Such and such a person, trainer, book or the internet told me so.”

Well maybe it is true….in some cases. But in many cases, maybe it’s not. How do you know if you’ve never stopped to question it?

Here’s the thing: Just like our dogs personalities, the relationships we have with them are not absolute. They aren’t designed in cookie cutter fashion and they don’t all fit into pretty little molds. They are fluid, they are dynamic, they are unique and most of all, they are YOURS. And no matter what any professional or anyone else says to you, if something in your body or mind tells you it’s wrong, then it is, at least for you, and you have every right to walk away from it and find a different solution that works better.

When faced with a suggestion from any well meaning individual, some of the questions we need to ask ourselves are:

  • a) Does it feel right for me and my dog? If it doesn’t fit with the way you live your life, then it is likely not something you want to follow. Be true to your inner voice.
  • b) How is this relevant to me and my dog?
  • c) Why is it necessary that I do it that way or think that way?
  • d) Is this going to make my relationship better or just add stress to one or both of us?
  • e) Does this information even make sense given my own nature and the personality of my dog?

I recently had pause to question some of my own beliefs and habits. And I had to wonder, how much of what I do is simply because someone else said so, instead of because it rings true in my own heart? I’m still digging into that question, but needless to say, it’s been insightful so far.

The bottom line is the only one who knows what’s best for you is you. Seek out and ask for advice any time you need it, and then ask yourself, “Does this really work for me and my dog?” If something in your gut feels even a little off, pay attention. You may only need to make some small adjustments to what you’re learning to make it right for you or you may need to walk away from it altogether and continue searching for answers from different sources or professionals until you find something that fits.

Until next time,
Darcie Jennings
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From Alpha to Understanding: A Dog Trainer's Journey
Lessons From a Dog Trainer: How I Got in My Own Way