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Working through behaviour problems with your dog

The road to recovery can be long and an uphill climb, tiring, de motivating and depressing, so those that you see who have worked wonders with their dog; they really have put in the work!

I see people coming to me with their dog, they love this dog and they really want things to work, but maybe their dog is aggressive, reactive or phobic. It is a hard call for me because I need to assess the dog and assess the people, many times I can see the dog can be rehabilitated but I am not sure the people have the stamina to push through the behaviours long enough and come out the other side.

This make a big difference to how I conduct the training and how I write the program, I used to think that getting their dog to show just how fast he can train to the owners was the best way hands down. I have found though that people go home, can’t replicate the same level of success and feel hopeless.

I have tried to limit how far I take the dog now a little and try and include the saying “if you perfected it up in a few seconds I would be wondering how it has taken me twenty plus years”

Many times when people get home all charged up and receive the program, actually implementing it into their lives, often against the dogs will is a challenge. We are all so busy these days if anything doesn’t pay off immediately, well sometimes it looks like its hopeless all over again.

The reason I write this article is that, from time to time, people tell of how I helped them with their dog and now their dog is great, problems all gone, a pleasure to live with. It is very nice to hear this praise and kind words but the real hero here is the client, not me.

Yes they are happy and smiling now, but they too had their days where all felt hopeless, I try and talk to them through emails and phone calls to keep them going but, it is a certain type of person that doesn’t give up, that believes in their dog, my program and themselves and pushes through those tough times and strives to succeed.

Some people of course don’t get there, that really is sad for them and their dog but there really is no shame in it, it isn’t easy, it isn’t quick and it isn’t rewarding until the end. I build in risk management strategies into my programs so at least these people can keep their dog safe.

The people that do triumph though, wow do they get a shot of confidence, many of them go onto bigger and better things with their dogs, competition, instructing, more dogs and helping others.

Not enough light shines on these people, they get my respect every time I see them and their dog!

Like this article? or not? make a comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts!

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9 comments

  1. This blog post bring back some very vivid memories for me, Steve! As you can imagine, I can personally relate to so much of what you’ve said here. I don’t have to tell you that I was at rock bottom when I came to see you less than 12 months ago. My family and friends were very concerned for both my physical and mental health! Both before and after Bo went back to rescue! 🙂

    It certainly does take commitment, hard work and faith in the process from the dog owner’s perspective but from my own experience, success is also dependent on the right behaviourist, program, training and training tools, specific to each dog’s issues. For Bo and I, this was key to our swift progress and success once on track. In my mind, there’s no doubt here for I put in the same amount of time, effort and commitment with two other trainers before working with you and only called it a day when I began experiencing full on anxiety attacks and fear when taking Bo out in public. There were those physical injuries too!

    I can’t believe we are the same team today. I am now a very confident and far more knowledgeable handler and my previously over-the-top, out-of-control dog is a pleasure to live with and train. Sure, I have put in the hard yards and ongoing training with Bo (still am!) and my boy has flourished as a result, but I am the first to acknowledge that I have been fortunate enough to have been given expert guidance and quality, results-driven training along the way (still am!), by both yourself and Vickie P. I have the most rewarding and enjoyable relationship with Bo and I will be forever grateful to you both 🙂 I came very close to missing out on what has become such a wonderful and fulfilling chapter in my life and my dream dog in Bo.

    Ironically, I first came to you with a dog whose drive I find daunting and unmanageable. Today, we are working strategically to boost that drive a few notches in training! Who’d have thought that?! 🙂

  2. Another great blog post Steve.

    From my experience it all seems to go in peaks and troughs and when you hit a trough even though you know the peaks will come it can all seem overwhelming to be at the bottom of the trough. Sometimes you seem to take 3 steps forward only to come back 3 or even 4 steps and feel like your back to square 1. But with time and effort you eventually regain that ground and you continue to make your way up the mountain. Slowly but surely and then before you know it your at the peak.

    I really did appreciate your emails and phone calls getting me through the bad patches.

    Hindsight is a great thing and all I can say to anybody else going through a bad patch is that it will improve if you give it enough time and you to can end up at that peak.

    Whether that peak is success in the competition ring and the performance dog you never thought you would have or whether that peak is having your dog cope in environments you would only have otherwise have dreamed of.

  3. A lot of people see Zero and my success now and think it was all smooth sailing once we started the program. It definitely wasn’t. There were days where Zero would completely regress and I’d get home and burst into tears. There were days when I wanted to give up, or would think it wasn’t helping but in time, the highs outweighed the lows and in the end, it’s 99.9% highs 😀

    Thank you Steve!!! (and that’s from both Z and I :D)

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