Hello, I have not written this week because I have been busy working with clients dogs. I am so frustrated with people right now I can’t even begin to give voice to it!
My clients come to me to deal with behavioral and training problems their dogs have developed. Lately it seems that no one wants to understand that when you bring a new pet into your home there is going to be an adjustment period. They do not want to understand that puppies are babies and must be taught what you want them to know!
The other day I had a call from a woman who had been given a Rottweiler puppy for Christmas. She wanted me to help her with the pup who was peeing on her floor. Believe it or not, this is how the conversation went:
Client: my pup is 14 weeks old or thereabout, she is peeing on my floors my carpets, and she just refuses to tell me she has to go!
Me: what kind of training have you done with her? Do you have her on a regular “out” schedule?
Client: why would I have her on any schedule, you can’t schedule when your dog pees! They are supposed to bark at the door when they feel the urge.
Me: Ma’am is this your first puppy?
Client: yes it is. I have wanted one for years but this is the first time I have ever had a dog.
Me: Did you do any research before getting your puppy?
Client: research? What research? It’s a dog, everyone knows how to care for a dog! Research, you make it sound like something complicated.
Me: Ma’am it IS complicated. Not everyone knows how to care for a dog, train a dog, or what to expect from a dog. No offense but you clearly need to do a little reading up on puppies, their needs and what to expect from them.
Client: Only stupid people don’t know how to care for a dog. It isn’t rocket science! You get a puppy you feed it and give it affection and it will become the perfect dog! It’s THAT simple! This is just a stupid dog! I should get rid of her and get a smarter one.
Now as you can well imagine by this point in the conversation I had heard enough stupidity from this woman. I maybe shouldn’t of said what i said next but I just couldn’t help myself.
Me: Ma’am if you think your dog is stupid and all you need is a smarter dog you are dumber than I thought. Do you have children?
Client: Well that was quite rude! Yes I do have children but I don’t see what that has to do with anything!
Me: (trying to control my anger) Let me ask you something, when your children were small did you expect them to learn to use the toilet on their own?
Client: What a silly question! Of course I didn’t expect my children to use the potty on their own! Why would you even ask me that it has nothing to do with my dog!
Me: Oh but it does! You are expecting your puppy (a baby) to learn to potty outside but you are doing nothing to teach it to go potty outside. Where is it supposed to pick up this knowledge if you do not teach it?
Client: Are you sure you are a dog trainer? Everyone knows that dogs are born knowing they must pee outside!
Me: Well Ma’am, I am not a trainer, I am a behaviorist, but your dog is not the one with the problem YOU are! I can not help you because you are incapable of understanding that puppies like all babies must be taught what you want them to know! It doesn’t just come naturally.
Client: Well you can’t be very good at your job then can you? I guess I will just have to find a trainer that knows how to handle stupid dogs!
At this point I ended the conversation. Trying to convince this woman that her puppy had to be taught was like beating my head against a stone wall. She was too stubborn and ignorant to understand that having a puppy is like having a new born, you must nurture them and slowly teach them to behave the way you want them to. Sadly this is not an isolated incident. There are many ignorant people out there who just haven’t got a clue how to raise a dog. When their dog does something they don’t like they blame the dog even though they have taken no steps to teach the dog to exhibit the behavior they desire.
These people should not own dogs, they do not understand that THEY are the ones responsible for teaching their pets the “rules”. They expect to bring a pet into their home and have it act just the way they want.
I guess what I am trying to say here is this, if you want a dog, then you should first be sure that you are well aware of what having a pet actually means. You should be researching expected behavior of your breed of choice, and if you have never had a dog before you should be researching puppy care and training in general. Having a pet is a lifetime responsibility, there will never be a time when you do not have to maintain your dog’s training. It is not as simple as calling up a trainer and saying “fix my bad dog.”
The truth of the matter is this, I am a dog behaviorist and trainer, but having me come into your home and teach your dog is not the ultimate answer. Sure I can train your pup, but in reality I spend most of my time training owners not their dogs.
Think of your dog as a three year old child that will never grow up. Now as we raise our children we teach them right from wrong. We teach them what behaviors are acceptable and which are not. But it doesn’t end there, we will spend the next 18 years of their lives reinforcing those lessons. The same can be said for your dog. They will have the thought process of a three year old for the rest of their lives. Everyone knows that while three year olds can grasp the concept of rules and right and wrong, we as parents must constantly maintain those lessons. The same is true of your dog. Training must be maintained and reinforced, there will never be a time when you can say “my dog is trained and will now do everything correctly for the rest of his life without any prompts from me.” If you think that you are dumber than you think your dog is.
Your dog will not magically begin to exhibit the behavior you wish, they are not born knowing anything. It is not instinctive for a dog to “tell” you they have to go potty, you must learn the body language they exhibit when they need to go and then encourage them to “tell” you they need to go outside. Dogs are creatures of habit so establishing a potty routine will curb the peeing indoors. Actually routines are very important in training your dogs. For example; sometimes when dogs come to us they are not housebroken, within a couple of weeks they have picked up on the regular schedule of potty breaks we have our pack on and the peeing indoors ceases.
Training and maintaining your dog is a full time job if you haven’t got the time or desire to do it, DON’T GET A DOG!!!
Until Next Time Remember
WE ARE THEIR VOICE!