There are a number of personal reasons why many dog owners fail in training or teaching their dog new behaviours. It might be a timing issue, lack of experience or understanding and sometimes, even a lack of patience to persevere through to the desired end result.
But when it comes down to it, if you can’t change some of your own habits or thoughts, how are you going to change your dog’s behaviour?
Are you thinking (be honest!):
- I can’t do this!
- It’s too hard.
- I don’t understand …
Oftentimes, once you leave your dog trainer or coach (who gave you all the correct and positive information to start moving forward towards the new results you want to see), these self-doubting phrases are the first to pop up.
Most likely, you feel overwhelmed with all this new information compounded with a strong feeling of resistance because you are now facing a choice between continuing with the old way of doing things or a fresh, new start that requires a lot more work. So instead of putting your new training into place, you find yourself making excuses as to why you shouldn’t – or won’t – start now. Unfortunately, most people choose the path of least resistance, to put it off, at least for now.
Here’s MY answer to each of those statements above:
1. Yes you can do it! You may be feeling fear of the unknown or perhaps you really don’t fully understand the new process; but Yes You Can do it! Talk with your trainer or coach about what is holding you back and together, recreate the new process into smaller steps (“baby steps”). It’s only resistance that is making you feel like you are taking a step into the unknown.
2. Remember, changing your beliefs or habits about anything in life is difficult and it usually goes hand-in-hand with indecision, fear and resistance. But all good things take time and hard work, especially if you want to break out of the same old rut of unwanted results. Change is not Impossible.
3. Not understanding something is NOT a reason to resist moving forward and changing your life; it’s an excuse. If you don’t understand, ask! You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help you, but unless you ask them for assistance, you will continue to remain in the same place as before, with the same problems and results.
Think about all the changes you’ve made in your life; remember the initial resistance and fear you felt? Starting a new diet; quitting smoking; learning to drive; changing jobs or ending a relationship. All those changes took you totally outside your ‘comfort zone’ simply because you had never done it before. But you went through it and came out on the other side happier, stronger and more confident.
It’s going to be exactly like that when dealing with your dog’s behaviour. You Can Do It!
Sure, it’s going to feel scary, unsure and uncomfortable in the pit of your stomach; but at the same time, it might also feel a little exhilarating, exciting and something to look forward to mastering!
But if you are focusing on the “unknown” and questioning whether you’re making the right decision, is it going to be too hard or maybe you don’t know all the answers, then you are going to feel and empower all those uncomfortable and negative feelings of resistance. Worse yet, you are going to project that insecure and negative energy to your dog which can defeat, deflect and contradict any attempts at new training.But, if you focus on thinking, “this is going to change my life;” “I’m in control of this and I’m learning something new and fun;” you’ll have a much better chance in meeting and overcoming that resistance! Confront it head-on and just do it!
A lot of people talk about Fear, Procrastination, Rationalisation and Resistance; but until you can put those words to how you feel at that moment, they don’t mean much. But it’s those feelings that are encouraging you to second-guess yourself, to stay exactly where you are now and not change anything. As soon as you recognize and put a name to those feelings, you’re back in the driver’s seat with choices and the positive results of making the right choices.
You’re not alone!
Here’s my own personal saga of resistance. I know I have to do my accounts; so I put it off by cleaning my house from top to bottom (which I loathe), answering emails and going on Facebook. Or maybe I need to speak to someone about an uncomfortable situation; so instead, I’ll avoid seeing or speaking to them for the next week! Doing anything else (except for what I’m supposed to be doing) until I actually have nothing else to do but those things because the deadline is now looming and I will feel worse if I didn’t do them at this point.
That’s how resistance works, it doesn’t want us to move forward, improve ourselves or improve our lives; it encourages us to stay in our comfort zone, doing what we always do, until what we’ve been avoiding will actually make us feel worse off than not doing it.
Once you do it, you think, why did I make such a big deal out of that? That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. And now you’ve taken the step head-on into your resistance; and once you’ve done that thing once or twice, it gets easier and is no longer met with resistance and you’ve developed a new, more successful habit.
As Nike says ‘Just Do it.’
So after you’ve read this today, tell resistance to go take a hike and get back to teaching your dog in the best way you know how; remember, they are looking to you to lead the way.
Congratulations! You are now in charge of your success as your dog’s confident leader!
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I first met the dog I would live with, travel with and love for 17 years in a small NCDL rescue centre, now Dogs Trust in Ballymena. My best friend, whom I was living with at the time had recently rehomed a dog from there and as we were both big dog lovers and now in our own digs, she promised me she would let me have my own dog too.
So the week before my 22nd birthday we decided to take the hour and a half trip up to the centre and have a look. I knew what I had in mind as I always loved lurchers with their sleek coats and slender aerodynamic bodies. This would be my chance to have one of my own. When we got there we walked around the pens looking at all the potential in those many pairs of brown eyes.
There were many lurchers, mainly greyhound crosses with soft eyes and a variety of coat colours and textures, nuzzling and licking our fingers through the wire. My friend could see I was falling in love and so excited, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. She agreed they were all quite beautiful but maybe a little large, as were living in a terraced house with only a small front and back garden, with 1 dog already.
I felt a little disappointed that she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as myself for these beautiful and unwanted creatures but she encouraged me to keep looking, which is what we did. We stopped at every pen and squinted into the shadow to see who sat there or hid in the back.
On the last row I was losing my enthusiasm and wanted to go back to the lurchers, there were so many it would take me a while to choose one anyway. I walked around the corner and was met at the first pen door by this black jack-in-the-box. He bounced up and down the whole time we stood there but what I could see of this black blur was that he had the same shape of face as my lovely lurchers but that was all I could see. He was also a little smaller.
We asked one of the staff could they bring him out and asked about his story. The lady had a huge smile on her face and said in no uncertain terms that Jacko was her favourite as she slipped a lead over his head and brought him out.
He was in no way a shy dog, he greeted us with his whole body wagging and feet doing a jig and trying to kiss us amid all this crazy welcome dance he was performing. He was sleek jet black with a white stripe on his chest and he looked like a mini lurcher. Jacko as they had called him had been born in the centre to a white whippet mum, they presumed dad was a collie as he had a fluffy undercoat to the outer shiny flat coat and he was now larger than his mum had been. All his siblings had been rehomed, as had he, but he had been returned for being too much to handle by his previous owners.
It was love at first sight. His big brown eyes shone with mischief, love for everyone he met and a pure love of life and I wanted him to be mine. We took him for a walk which involved him pogo jumping half the walk in his enthusiastic way but I knew in my heart this boy was meant to be with me. I was his second chance.
We went through all the necessary paperwork and homechecks and the following weekend of my birthday we went to collect my boy who I renamed Solo, so as not to confuse him completely of his old name which I didn’t care for. He was more like a Han Solo my new ebony boy.
We soon found out he was a chewing expert, carpets, curtains and seat belts were his forte’, barking was another habit which took a long time to master but he had the company of my friends lovely dog Trouble to get him over his transition from kennels to home life.
Soon we moved to Oxfordshire to follow my career with horses and Solo’s first flight in a plane. I spent the whole flight imagining him escaping from his crate and bounding out the door as soon as the baggage handlers opened it and being mortified as images of us all trying to catch him as he chased planes on the runway haunted me! He didn’t I hasten to add but that was the kind of thing he could do.
The move to living in a more open environment with lots of exercise across big grass fields and spending all day with me while I worked in a large yard suited him down to the ground. He made lots of doggy and horsey friends although he always erred on the cautious side to any newcomer on 4 legs. Newcomers on 2 legs were met with his by now well known pogo stick impression and trying to kiss their face while they were still upright. His other trade mark was to gently put their wrist in his mouth, like a doggy handshake. This he only did with his true friends.
He was great with other dogs, he also showed an inbuilt ability for herding when needed and he helped me with many a shy or scared dog, encouraging them with his gentle ways that everything would be fine. He loved the water and the beach and chasing balls and especially if all 3 were combined. Then we could barely get him back to the car!
I couldn’t sum up his whole life in this one small blog but I wanted to let the world know that this funny, intelligent, kind and wonderful dog had existed in this world, if only to help me through life and remind me to keep my sense of humour and patience on many occasions.
For 17 years he was my shadow, my best friend, my confidante and my teacher. He taught me to never judge a book by it’s cover and that every dog deserves a second chance and has the potential to change your life for the better. They come into our lives like a guardian angel to teach us about ourselves and how to treat others, with kindness, with humour and with unconditional love.
And when they leave this world we know they have touched our lives and our hearts like no other creature ever could.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my ebony boy who will live forever in my heart.
For Solo x
I meet a lot of dog owners in my line of work and many of them tell me they haven’t taken a holiday since they got their dog. When I ask them why, they usually reply ‘”we couldn’t put him/her in a kennel!” Or maybe even, “we tried kennels once; never again!”Guilt seems to be a big factor for owners when they consider leaving their dog behind. And for some owners, leaving their beloved pet in a big concrete building away from all their creature comforts is more than they can bear.
Obviously if you can get a family member or friend to look after your dog while you are away, this is usually the best option; if you trust them to do the job right. But if you don’t have that kind of option, you should consider hiring a qualified and recommended pet sitter.
6 Reasons why a Pet Sitter Equals a “Stress-free Holiday or Vacation” this Year
- You will have someone not only looking after your pet(s), but also your home. Most pet sitters will also do home services like collecting mail, watering plants and leaving out trash bins so you don’t have to worry about coming home to a pile of mail, dead plants or smelly trash. It will all be taken care of. Having someone in your home while you’re gone also discourages thieves from targeting your empty home. Most pet sitters will take care of other pets as well as dogs and cats, but always check first.
- Money talks. A pet sitter will usually charge you for the time you are away, not by the number of pets you have. So, if you have lots of pets, a pet sitter could be a cheaper option in the long-run than using kennels.
- Happier and Healthier Pets. By remaining in their own home environment, most dogs and cats are a lot happier and less stressed by the absence of their caretakers. They are less likely to pine, worry or even get sick while owners are away because they’re at home! By staying in their own home, they also avoid coming home with unwanted fleas or maybe kennel cough.
- Nothing changes while you’re away. This is one of the best reasons to use a dog sitter the next time you go away. Your dogs remain in their normal routines for feeding, walks, play time and nap time; so there are no big changes which could potentially stress or upset your beloved pet. Plus they also get the full attention and personalized care of someone the entire time you are away.
- Special care and attention. If you have a pet that requires special feeding or medication, this can pose an added worry when kenneling the pet; will the same person do this properly, every day and on time? With a pet sitter, you can spend the time showing them exactly what needs to be done before you leave. Make sure you leave a detailed list for the pet sitter too (spelling out routines, feeding schedules and procedure, etc.), so that your pet sitter does exactly what you normally do, ensuring your pet is in excellent hands and in their normal routine. Also include any emergency contact numbers (including your vet), just in case something happens.
- Highly Recommended! Good pet sitters usually get their work from repeat business and word of mouth. Someone who does a good job and has proven to be trustworthy will always be recommended. So ask your friends or other dog owners who they use to pet sit their animals. You might be surprised to find there is a local pet sitter (or more!) in your own area.
A lot of pet sitters have many years of experience looking after different animals, including their own. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their experience; many professional pet sitters will bring references from other clients, insurance certificates and a contract for you to complete to keep everything legal and professional, with both parties knowledgeable and happy with the expectations. In addition, they will usually do an introduction interview to meet you, and of course your pets, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Once you’ve hired the perfect pet sitter, you can happily go off on holiday with the confidence that your dog, cat, etc., is in safe hands and receiving the best of care. If this is the first time you’re away from your beloved animals, don’t be afraid to ask your pet sitter to send you a text or update email; as a fellow animal-lover, they will understand!
Remember to book your pet sitter well in advance; holiday seasons are busy times for these professionals.
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