In The House of Dog – The Lessons of Quarantine

What’s The Phrase? Quarantine Hair, Don’t Care?

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. I apologize for that. This last month has been insane for everyone, and we were no different. The short of it is, pandemics suck. In this last month, both my dad and Jennifer’s dad were ill. My dad had to be hospitalized for a few days. Her dad actually had COVID and has since made a recovery. Jennifer has been home more, first because PetSmart had closed their salons and then because she was sick. She had a negative COVID19 test and is much better now, but she was pretty sick for a while and I had to take care of her. Her being home has put a bit of monkey wrench in how much work I get done, both because I tend to focus better when I’m alone and I don’t want to be rude, taking up time and space while she is here.

On top of all of this, we have a new laptop. But it isn’t working correctly, and keeps blue-screening on me and restarting. This is my 3rd attempt at writing this blog because of that. So much fun…

Anyway, quarantine has all taught us some lessons about a variety of things, and dog training is no different. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned from this:

1.) There is no substitute for in-person training.

I have read several articles from a variety of professional resources about conducting your training business online. Last year, I began offering online assessments and distance learning for clients who were out of my area of operation, although I have yet to work with a client that way. I have done exactly one online assessment to date. And what I can tell you is that it is no substitute for doing this in-person.

Part of it is my teaching method, I like to observe the interactions between you and your dog. Part of it is being able to demonstrate how to do whatever it is properly, having you watch my body language and so on. But a big part of it is simply space. We have a small house, and I don’t have a lot of space that I can use. We have a big back yard and I do my best to put it to good use, although there are some issues with that that I won’t get into. But with the number of people and animals we have in our house, space is a precious commodity.

2.) Training dogs is easy, training people is not.

I remember reading a book called “It’s Not The Dogs, It’s The People”. The title kinda gives it away. But it’s the truth. Training people is…hard. No offense. But I’m not standing in a glass house, casting stones. The truth is, the hardest people I have ever tried to train is my own family. My wife, for the most part, tries to do things with the dogs the way I want her to. But even then, she has moments or does things that I really don’t like. I’ve yet to find a way to communicate to her why we shouldn’t do some things the way she wants to do them. But, by far, the hardest person has been my mother-in-law. We all know the jokes about mother-in-laws being difficult people. Mine’s a little more difficult than most. She doesn’t like dog training as a rule, and just simply ignores what I ask her to do with my dogs. It’s enough to make me consider using a shock collar…on her…not the dogs…

3.) I do not understand why everyone has taken up running! And neither do my dogs!

I so appreciate the healthy choices all of you are making. No, really, I’m being honest. I’m glad that you have the drive to get out there and exercise. I sure don’t. My inner hobbit has been quite happy with quarantine life. But my dogs do get extremely frustrated seeing everyone in my neighborhood run by our windows. I’ve talked to a lot of clients about barrier frustration since all of this began. And the truth is, the best thing you can do is manage it. Just don’t open the blinds. Or if you do, accept that your dog is going to bark. We’ve been breeding dogs for around 30,000 years to bark at threats. It’s only been within the last century that we have decided that it is inconvenient.

4.) We finally have the time to train our dogs…and we didn’t.

Again, I’m not going to cast stones here. This more about me than anyone else. I had a lot of time on my hands, and I could have put it to better use. Now, you don’t always want to, I get that. Suffering from depression and anxiety the way I do, I can’t always work up the energy to do it myself. But I know it’s not always that. I guess my point is that…we take a lot for granted with our dogs. Maybe we shouldn’t?

What lessons did you learn quarantine? Has it changed your outlook on things? I want to know!

Happy Tails everyone!

-Ben

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