Why I teach you, not your dog

There is a common misconception among many people who get in touch with a dog trainer, and that is that we train your dog. Some people even go so far as to assume that they will have no input whatsoever in the process, which is really challenging for us to work with.

Here’s the truth: when I come to your house for a training session, I will be training you. I will help you to understand how to do a range of training exercises and management methods that will help YOU to solve your dogs problem behaviours. I will demonstrate to you how to introduce these exercises to your dog, and then I will watch while you practice. I will offer you support and feedback so that you know you are doing a great job, and I will give you ongoing support to help you move from step to step. I will celebrate with you as you and your dog reach your training goals. But I will be training you, far more than your dog!

dog trainer

At the end of the day, my time with your dog will be somewhere in the vicinity of 60-90 minutes initially. We might book a follow up consult, which means I will spend another 60-90 minutes with your dog. You, on the other hand, will be spending hours everyday with your dog. Whether you are passively spending time relaxing together, or actively training, your dog will be learning from every moment with you. Consider every interaction with your dog a training opportunity. If I haven’t armed you with the training tools to make the most of these opportunities, then I haven’t upheld my end of the bargain!

I could create a service where I come to your home and work just with your dog. I could teach your dog to sit for greetings, walk nicely on a leash, focus intently on me instead of lunging at other dogs on walks, etc, but that wouldn’t help you. The process of training requires clear communication between a person and their dog, and the more time you spend teaching your dog that great things will happen when he responds to your requests, the more he will try to work with you. If I’ve put that time in, that does nothing for your dogs responsiveness to YOU.

There will always be trainers who offer to put in the hard yards and send a fully trained dog back into your home, but I am not one of them. I want to give you the skills to reach your own goals with your dog, skills that will help you not just with today’s problem but with every bump along the road you walk with your dog. I want YOU to experience the exciting rush when your dog can’t wait for your next cue because he enjoys working with you so much. I want you to see what I do, and understand why it works so that you can apply it with success yourself. I have no secret methods or tricks that I wouldn’t want to share.

At Treat. Play. Love. we train smart, not tough…and we want to teach you to do the same!

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Is your pet motivated?

Begging Dog

There are a range of factors that influence whether or not your pet will perform a behaviour when you ask, but a big one that is often overlooked is motivation. You’ve asked your pet to do something, now they’re wondering “what’s in it for me?”

Many people hold the belief that our pets, particularly our dogs, should do what we say “to please us”. There are a number of things wrong with this expectation, but in particular is the fact that animals don’t live by what’s right or wrong in the world but rather by what brings them good things and what causes bad things to happen. They repeat behaviours that bring them good outcomes, and avoid behaviours that lead to bad things happening.

Which brings us back to motivation. You’ve asked your dog to come, but he’s having a blast barking at dog on the other side of the fence. You’re empty handed, and you sound mad. What’s in it for him? Not much! He could stay at the fence having a blast, or he could come to you and get in trouble. He has no concept that it will please you if he comes on cue, he is just interested in how it affects his day.

There are a range of ways you can motivate your pet to work with you instead of ignoring you. Try using favourite treats, games, toys, attention, and praise during training. If you can teach him that listening to you leads to all his favourite things happening, then the stakes are in your favour next time you cue a behaviour. The more good history you build, the better the stakes get for you.

Next time your pet seems to blow you off when you ask him to do something, take a minute to think about what you’re offering him in return. Are you asking him to stop doing something he’s enjoying? Then you had better up your game!