Train Proactively Instead of Reactively
As you know, I’m a dog trainer. Many of the calls I receive are from dog owners who are experiencing some kind of problem with their dogs. I am known to be a problem-solver—people come to me to fix problems with their dogs. This can include issues ranging from basic housetraining to a dog that is fearful and barking and lunging at other dogs. I love what I do and I’m really good at it.
The problem I frequently observe is that people train reactively instead of proactively. Clients call after a serious behavior issue already exists. Understandably, clients want to know how to stop the dog from doing something they don’t like.
Recently, my associate was working with a client whose young dog got enjoyment out of barking at and grabbing his wife’s pant legs. Basically, the dog was having a great time harassing the wife in order to get a reaction out of her. The dog had learned that he would get what he wanted (his owner’s attention) if he behaved this way. My associate gave the client many tools to start addressing the problem, however the client insisted on wanting to know what to do in the moment when the dog behaved that way. His focus was on the problem itself, instead of on how to transform it. That’s where we come in. Our job is to teach dog owners how to train proactively instead of reactively. We created a behavior modification program for the client where we taught his dog a variety of alternative behaviors along with impulse control. At the same time, we taught the client how to manage the dog in a way that prevented the dog from continuing to practice harassing-type behaviors. It’s still a work in progress, but we are on the right track.
Sometimes clients do call to start off on the right foot with their new puppy or newly adopted dog. As soon as the dog comes home—or sometimes even before (which trainers love!)—the new dog owner has already chosen a trainer to work with. An experienced trainer can spot things in the dog, as well as the owner’s interactions with the dog, that could cause problems down the line. By shining light on them and changing the way the owner communicates with the dog, proactive training is accomplished.
So call a trainer before a problem gets out of hand!
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Articles from Victoria Stilwell
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- Becoming a Dog Trainer
- Social Bullying
- Does Your Dog Respect You?