Why dog training doesn't work, and what your dog trainer probably isn't telling you…
Hey, what’s going on everybody?! Andrew Fraser here—founder of DogiZone and the Alpha Academy for dog trainers. I’m want to share with you some information about why it is that your dog is probably not where you want them to be when it comes to training—and probably what most dog trainers have not told you.
One of the biggest areas of issue that I see when it comes to training dogs is the person that I’m working with not having the right mindset. Training is really about teaching you how to get the dog to sit, how to get the dog to come when they’re called, how to get the dog to not jump on somebody, etc. It’s all about how to get the dog to start or to stop behaviors—or maybe it’s how to get your dog to start doing something or stop doing something, but here’s what happens. No matter how good your skills are—you could be the best dog trainer in the world!—but if you don’t necessarily have the mindset of applying that training and applying those skills, then ultimately it puts you into a position of not succeeding. Right?
And so the mindset is the number one most important thing that you must have when you start training a dog.
A lot of people have this mindset of, Well, you know, I’ll work with this later. It’s not that important, right? They don’t treat the dog training as mission critical and that’s a problem because the dog starts to learn over time that, well, it’s not always important, just sometimes is important. So finding a way to prioritize that is a challenge.
I’m not going to say that it’s actually not a challenge, but for most people, I find that to be the number one hurdle.
So how is it that you get over that hurdle?
Well, first off, you need to make sure that you establish where it is that your mindset is lacking in dog training. Why is it that you don’t follow through? What does it?
If we’re being honest with everybody here, it’s probably some type of fear that you have.
You don’t want to correct the dog for doing something. Why is it that you don’t want to correct the dog for doing something? Your mindset might be telling you that if you correct the dog for doing something wrong, that it will damage the relationship you have with your dog, versus having the mindset that correcting the dog will actually help to improve the relationship, because the dog is going to start to have a lot more clarity about what it is that your expectations are.
So that’s a huge thing that I just don’t think we spend enough time thinking about. When it comes to training your dog, you’ve got to figure it out first before you go and invest in a trainer.
Some of you might already be working with a trainer, some of you may not, but before you invest on trainer, you need to figure out what is it that’s holding you back from doing the training with your dog. If you can establish that first, it’s going to make the training come a lot a lot easier for you and that’s something that I find I’m particularly good at because I really enjoy working with people. I’m not like a lot of dog trainers who hate working with people and so they become a dog trainer so that they can just work with dogs.
I actually love dogs, but I love people, and I love working with people to the point that I have become almost obsessed with learning why it is that people are not successful in dog training. And so as I mentioned, establishing where the mindset is falling apart is going to be the number one tactic.
I’m not going to say the person’s name here, but I think that I’ll share a little story about mindset because I think that sometimes hearing facts doesn’t necessarily drive the point home. But maybe hearing this story might!
It starts off with a woman who had a dog that was a very well trained dog—in her mind. She felt that her dog was completely trained and because it was trained, she no longer needed to use the training collar anymore. Her mindset was, I haven’t had an issue so I probably won’t have an issue again in the future. But the reality is that issues will return and so that being said, she had spent a lot of time not using our training collar, going and taking her dog places off leash and doing all sorts of things that people do with really, really well trained dogs.
Until one day when she had dropped her leash and a neighborhood dog that had always walked by and barked at her dog and taunted her dog passed by again. That client’s dog took off and started running after the other dog. And you all can probably imagine how the rest of the story goes.
So again, it goes back to mindset, right? Like, what’s the mindset issue here? The mindset issue here is that once my dog is trained, I don’t think that I need to continue to push the training with my dog.
And here’s the reality—and this is a little dose of medicine for some of you—whether it’s for you or for your dog, this is going to still apply. If you’re not growing, if you’re not improving and getting better every single day, you are dying. If you’re slowing down, somebody is going to pass you, and that goes for your dog as well.
If you’re not continuously improving, if you’re not continuously pushing to improve your dog skill set, then they will. They will, over time, start to have issues. Again, some people refer to that as an instinctual drift. For me, I just call it complacency because I don’t really like to get into all the scientific terms per se, but the reality is that people get complacent. They assume that their dog is trained and they start to let their guard down, they stop asking more from their dogs.
You might be asking me, well, why is it that I should continue to ask more? I’m happy with how my dog is and I don’t want to compete with my dog. So it’s not important. And it’s like going to the gym. Right?
Would you—if you went on a diet to lose weight—and as part of that diet you decided you were going to start going to the gym, would you, after you lost that weight, just stop going to the gym and stop that diet? Well, maybe you would. Maybe you wouldn’t. I hope that you wouldn’t because if you did, then what would happen? Right? Well, you know what would happen, you would end up right back where you started and that’s what happens with our dogs.
We start and stop, start and stop. We Start and stop, but we don’t maintain.
And so a big part of being successful is having the mindset of: This isn’t just a project that I’m going to complete over the next month or the next six months. Understand that dog training is a process. It is a lifestyle, it is a principle of living. And when you adopt that as a mindset and you realize that training never ends and that by training your dog, you’re going to improve things versus hurt things. It will change the game for your dog.
So anyways, if you have anything to share with us, post it below. We’d love to hear some feedback from you. And I hope that you have a better than great day.
One more note: We’re experiencing some cold, nasty weather, and just because there’s a bunch of snow on the ground and people aren’t out there driving their cars, it doesn’t give you a free pass for thinking that you should go and take your dog off leash because it’s really safe out. So just because it’s snowing outside or icing outside doesn’t mean that you should give your dog more freedom. Why? Well, it goes right back to mindset, right? We have a mindset that, oh, people aren’t driving. People aren’t out and nobody’s out right now. So everything will be good. See how that works for you. Stay safe out there!