The Importance of Remembering That You Are Only Human

Photo Courtesy Patrick Danforth Photography

Through my work as a trainer and behaviour consultant I work with a lot of dogs. I also work with lots of humans, more humans than dogs, as most dogs have several humans in their lives. I have spent time sharpening my people skills and feel that I do a good job of making people feel understood, supported and at ease. However, that can be hard to do at times as people are human, and humans seem to like beating themselves up.

I have lost count of the number of times that a client has said to me, "I thought i was doing the right thing, but I have been told by a friend that I have done everything wrong and have made my dog worse", or "I have really tried to help my dog, but I think I have failed them". I have also lost count of the times that dog training friends have said "I have failed my dog, I should have seen this coming and prevented it."

Stop it right now, take a deep breath and remember that you are only human.

  • Humans cannot see into the future.
  • Humans do not have x-ray vision
  • Humans cannot see through walls
  • Humans cannot prevent other humans from doing silly things all of the time
  • Humans make mistakes
  • Humans have emotions
  • Humans are not robots.

If you recognize that your dog is struggling with something, or that you have a training problem, and you research how to make things better, then you are a good dog guardian.

If you call a dog trainer or behaviourist then you are a good dog guardian.

In hindsight we may have chosen to do something differently. We could have avoided that puppy farmer, we could have avoided that trainer who used water sprays, we could have avoided that child who pulled our dogs ears. We are only human! We make decisions based on our level of knowledge at that time and the information that we are given.

Dogs also change. They go from cute floppy puppy, to land shark, to raging adolescent and so on. Those of you who are parents will remember the challenges that you faced at each stage, and the number of times that you could have run out of the door and fled the country just to avoid dealing with the hormonal grotbag who was stomping around your house.

Why do we expect to feel different when bringing up our dog? Why do we set the bar so high for ourselves?

Stop beating yourself up, recognise the great things that you do, and never be afraid of asking for help. I can guarantee that the dog trainer that you call, will at some point have felt just like you.

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Positively Expert: Rachel Hayball


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