In The House of Dog – Need A Hero?

” Who need a hero? (hero)
You need a hero, look in the mirror, there go your hero”

-Pray For Me

So, this has been a busy year for me. Which is good! It’s bad for my blog, but I’m trying.

I hear a lot of funny things when I’m working with a client in their home. I get a lot of “you’re so good at this!” Well, yes, I have had years of practice and repetition. I also get a lot of “My dog listens to you, why doesn’t he listen to me that way?” Well, do the homework I am telling you to do, as I am telling you to do it and your dog will listen to you to. But there is one phrase I hate hearing:

Could you just move in and live here with us?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered. I’m also not an awful house guest. But I hate what that phrase implies. I know most clients say it as more of a joke, but many a truth is said in jest. When you joke about me moving in, then it implies to me that something is wrong. Now, there could be several things that are going wrong, but it means we need to talk.

So, where’d we mess up? As a trainer, I spend a lot of time watching you and your dog interact, looking for ways to improve your training style. I try to encourage people to ask questions, frequently; in whatever format they prefer. I keep my phone on and near at hand for just this reason. And there is no such thing as a stupid question.

But there are two sides to every coin. And I know that part of it is your confidence level. Now, there is only so much I can to help raise your confidence. I can say things to encourage and inspire you. I can cheer you on and praise you. I can even click and give you a cookie! But you need to realize that at the end of the day, it is all about you.

I wasn’t always this confident. I am not always this confident. I have my days where I just want to bury my head in the sand. Flynn’s dog reactivity acts up on his way to the groomer. Or Phillip gets snippy with the cats. Or I just get inside my head and start beating myself up. What do I do?

First thing I do is something I find relaxing. I’ve got a few hobbies and things that I enjoy. I’ll do something related to them. I’ll do something that’s not related to dog training. I also find watching a favorite show or movie or book helps immensely.

Then, I come back to the training problem I’m dealing with. I try to approach it from an objective point of view, without any kind of emotion clouding my judgement. This is much harder to do than it sounds. And I follow my own advice. I start with what I want the end result to be and work backwards from there. I try to take a look at where the problem is occurring and focus on that moment. And I keep doing this, practicing over and over again until I get it right. I train.

Training isn’t just for the dog. Training is for you too. You need to train yourself as much as you need to train your pup. You need to master your behaviors, fine tune your cues, build up your muscle memory and form new neural pathways. You need to be a hero for your dog and a hero for yourself.

And to quote Nick Fury: I still believe in heroes.

Happy Tails everyone!

-Ben

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