This past Saturday I spent my afternoon giving a seminar about dog training and behavior myths to a group of dog guardians and dog lovers at the Indian Trails Public Library. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and honestly one of the nicer days we've had so far this year. We broke out the hammock this past Saturday, that's how nice it was! And yet, there they were. A small group of devoted, loving dog people who were willing to sit and listen to me rattle on about dog behavior and dog training myths for an hour and a half of their valuable free time. Towards the end of the presentation I mentioned that they were all obviously above average dog guardians and they laughed, but it's true! They were all there to better themselves for dogs.
This blog post is written for those dog guardians and others like them.
Thank you, to the people who call me and ask me about my methods before engaging my services, doing their best to be educated consumers and carefully choosing who they allow into their dogs lives. I wish every dog had guardians like you!
Thank you to the people who were given way too much to handle like a dog with reactive or aggressive behavior, or high energy littermates, who work their BUTTS off to make sure their dog's needs are met and that they are doing what's best for them.
Thank you to the people who are willing to truly empathize with their dogs and understand that their reactive or fearful dogs need help, not punishment or corrections. Living with a dog with behavior issues can sometimes seem like an impossibly trying and difficult experience (I know Regis drove me to tears a few times!), but day after day these people step up to the plate and advocate for their dogs. Their devotion to their dogs gives me hope.
Thank you to the people who hear my suggestions and try their best to implement them, even if it means changing a habit, stepping out of their comfort zone, or doing something that will drastically alter their schedules. I know it can be hard in our busy lives to squeeze in extra exercise or training time, but you still try and for that I am grateful.
And most of all, thank you to the people who know they don't want to hurt, scare, or coerce their dogs. The people I speak with who say they'd "never want to do anything that might hurt their dog" and that they "knew there'd be a better way" after talking to corrections based trainers and being told that using a prong collar, choke chain, or shock collar wasn't optional; OR after being told over the phone that the trainer uses positive methods and is asked to use one of these tools at the first session! (Note: these trainers are most definitely not positive reinforcement trainers!) Thank you to the people who grew up with one way of thinking about dogs and when I ask them to shift their entire viewpoint do so even if it feels different or unnatural. Thank you to the people who know their dogs are valued family members and treat them as such.
I do still meet some opposition regarding positive methods; particularly people who are hesitant to use food because they don't want to become too dependent on it (and that's a topic for another blog post altogether!). But the more clients I work with and the more people I get to know the more that I am made sure: dog guardians are relieved to be able to use positive, pain and fear-free methods to teach their dogs and change their behavior.
So, thank you, to all of the amazing dog guardians out there (particularly the ones I've worked with!). You fill my heart with joy and make my job worth doing. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey.