Clean-up On Aisle Dog

worried looking boxer dog

Photo courtesy of Olathe Animal Hospital

If you happen to be privy to the chatter that goes on between dog trainers, what I am going to say will not be new to you. Daily, dog trainers are contacted to help an owner with a dog, a normal, healthy, fully functioning dog, whose behavior has become untenable or even dangerous. Sometimes we’re contacted within a few days or weeks after the problem behavior has been identified. More often it’s been months or years before we get the call (or text or email).

We may be their first hope, often we are their last. We are not usually going where no trainer has gone before. On the contrary, we are stepping in to try to fix a problem that another trainer (or trainers) failed to address, contributed to, and yes, even caused.

Whether an owner followed the bad advice shared by; a trainer’s TV show, book, seminar, a sales person in a pet shop, or the folklore of a culture, it becomes our turn to step up to the plate. Though the deck has been stacked against us, bases are loaded, with 2 strikes, all eyes are on us to win this thing.

Cleaning up a behavior problem that is based on a schedule of positive reinforcement is like getting a water soluble stain out of synthetic. Behavior problems caused by the use of punishment (P+) or other aversive methods (R-) are more like oil-based stains on silk, good luck to you. Even if you do manage to get it out, the fabric may never be the same as it was before it was stained.

Be careful how you handle a dog, any dog, but especially one that is fearful and fragile. If in doubt as an owner or trainer, visit the website for more information about the most effective and humane ways to train. Join me in Concord NH in February 2018 for a day of learning to Train As If Their Lives Depended On It.


3 comments so far

  1. yahdevi on

    So happy to see you back on the blog track! Your thoughtful and well written insight has led me and my fearful dog down an amazing and life fulfilling path for almost 10 years. From a dog who was afraid to leave her crate to one who the rangers call our local state park’s mascot where the ham she’s turned into enters daily with her famous baying and tricks performed by the rangers and her from her repertoire. If only they had a piano at the kiosk so she could show off her musical talents!

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Thank you so much for sharing that! It will certainly help keep me motivated. I spend a lot of time in the Fearful Dogs Facebook group and let blogging slide. I especially like hearing about the great work you did for your dog. What a great life you have given her.

  2. yahdevi on

    You wrote to the effect that forced exposure to situations that trigger a dog’s fears is like teaching a person how to swim by throwing them in the pool. You also wrote that in the end we should to accept our dogs and their limitations for who they are and how far they can go during their lives spent with us. Those two concepts have been stuck with all these years. It takes time but it gently develops a trusting relationship with our companion rather than one filled with conflict and confusion.

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