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 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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So here’s the question; Is neutering really as kind to our dogs as we think?
This important study is worth a read for people thinking about neutering before 1 year old, especially with a pedigree breed.
Let us know what you think……
Are you a frustrated dog owner that feels you’ve tried nearly every method of dog training that’s available today? And do you always end up finding that nothing has worked for you? You know the pattern, they all sound great in the beginning, you try them for a while, but eventually your dog’s negative behaviours re-emerge or worse yet, escalate!
While I dislike being the fly in the ointment, is it possible that what’s really not working is your motivation and total commitment to stick to one method consistently, and over the long-term, to realize the results you’re seeking?
But, it’s not your fault!
Today we live in the reality of shorter attention spans, faster convenience, instant gratification and “Quick Fixes” being highlighted on most TV programs.
That’s all well and good when you’re watching a thirty minute TV program featuring your celebrity-dog-trainer-of-choice. But what people don’t see – and ultimately forget – is that all the long, tedious and boring footage has been edited out of the program to make it fit into less than 30 minutes, as well as making it more “dramatic” and “action-packed” to you the viewer; whether you’re sitting at home in your armchair or watching it on the train from your mobile device.
Unfortunately, what we humans have forgotten today (in the endless watching of YouTube “How To” videos and never-ending debates in online chat rooms about the latest harness vs collar or one training method over another) is one critical fact. The only way your dog is going to learn something new and positive is for you to close the laptop, shut off the TV and power down the mobile device and go and practice with them in the backyard. Yes, good old-fashioned work.
You see, your dog doesn’t know (or really care) it’s the 21st century. They don’t understand your always-on noisy TV, the endless tapping on your laptop or frankly, any other domestic contraption. They don’t comprehend the unspoken “rules of the road” that exist in their human’s world (but not in theirs). For example, WE know that it’s a definite no-no to pee on another dog or person. Or that it’s a serious social faux pas to happily hump another dog or even the leg of a guest that’s visiting your mum or dad. Mother Nature did not program these social idiosyncrasies into our canine’s DNA.
So, how do our dogs live in our fast-paced, contraption-filled, rule-abiding insane world without running back to the wild with their tails between their legs?
Simple, We Teach Them!
It constantly amazes me how well our dogs already adapt themselves to living in our crazy world that we accept as “normal.” Consider it for a moment; they live in high-rise apartments and walk down busy streets in bustling and noise-ridden cities throughout the world without as much as a blink of an eye! Or perhaps they live in the remotest parts of the planet, herding sheep at high altitudes on a snow-clad, icy mountain range, taking everything in stride.
Now look at your dog lounging at your feet. YOUR dog can do that as well! Why? Because that adorable creature, looking up at you with those huge puppy eyes, is one of the most intelligent and adaptable creatures who share this planet with us.
They have already proven this to us time after time as they help us with: Companionship, Security (police and customs), Herding (of almost any animal), Military (from bomb units to drug units), Assistance (guide dogs for the blind as well as other disabilities), alerting epileptic owners that a fit is about to happen, smelling out cancers in the human body
But all these incredible canines did not teach themselves how to do all those things. Their inspired dog owners saw the capability and intelligence in their faithful companions and challenged themselves to develop and enhance these innate dog abilities. We are a very resourceful race, us humans, but how did we get to a place where stopping your dog from jumping up or barking has utterly stumped us?!
So it really comes down to this simple question: how badly do you really want to change your dog’s bad habit? It’s really this simple, only those with the true commitment and dedicated motivation will succeed in creating their “perfect” dog.
Your full commitment is required if you want to make you and your dog’s life a better, more harmonious one. You have to be committed to getting over this behavioral hump and be able to visualize the ultimate potential. Motivate yourself to practice and work with your dog every day. You’ll not only be addressing and overcoming undesired behaviors, but also building a stronger bond with your dog.
If you find your knowledge is lacking and not up to the current challenge you’re facing with your dog, ASK FOR HELP! But ultimately, you have to commit to using that help and consistently follow through with it every single day.
DO NOT be embarrassed if you don’t know how to properly address the problem with you dog. There are always qualified professionals ready to help you with whatever situation or problem you might be experiencing with your dog. Professionals who can help you better communicate to your dog what it is that you really want.
Caution: the situation or problem with your dog will not fix itself; it will not fix itself in one session and cannot be fixed by someone else. Get back to the basics and practice, practice, practice with daily hands-on experience.
Just saying “this method doesn’t work for me” gets you nowhere, especially if you have only done it half-heartedly or inconsistently. Just like with any job, it’s time to engage a solid and committed work ethic – along with proper knowledge – in working with your dog!
Dogs aren’t robots, you can’t just type a command and it happens instantaneously! But, with patience, commitment and positive reinforcement, you’ll begin to see real, lasting results within a few weeks. Remember, dogs learn by experience; so go lead, teach and give them a positive, enjoyable experience and they will follow you to the ends of the earth!
I KNOW you have it in you!
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Due to your overwhelming interest and support for my last blog, I’d like to take it one step further and suggest some potential solutions and especially ask for YOUR ideas and suggestions on how we, as a society, can effectively address and positively turnaround this epidemic of unwanted dogs.
“Disposable” dogs … what exactly do we mean by using that term?
These are the dogs (and, of course, it applies to other pets as well) who are bought on an impulsive whim, with little thought – and even less planning; and then when the reality, cost or actual work needed to care for this animal begins to starts to seep in, often an equally-quick decision is made to simply get rid of the “bothersome” pet.
This once-adorable, cute pet now becomes the disposable collateral from an owner’s sad-attempt-at-an-excuse of ‘oops, made a mistake!‘ Maybe it’s because of the particular breed: it’s too small, too big, too energetic or too strong-willed. Or maybe it’s something as basic as: it won’t listen to me, it pees everywhere, chews everything and so on. What do all these “reasons” have in common? They are nothing more than endless and unwarranted excuses. It needs to stop!
These same hapless dogs are being primarily sold by breeders. It doesn’t really matter whether they are ethical breeders or not; because it’s really these new – and incredibly naive – owners who are fueling an industry where the primary intent is to make money off the good nature of a dog. Just because nature provided this instinct, doesn’t mean society should abuse it – for any amount of money!
But we all know the basic rule of economics: Where there is a Demand there will always be a Supply.
And so Rescues, around the world, are heaving to the rafters with unwanted dogs (not to mention other pet animals). The same dogs that were once “so cute” and “adorable” before being brought into their new home. Or maybe it’s the same dogs that became overnight “must-haves” thanks to the latest movie released (called the “movie effect” by Linda Cole in her Yahoo article: “How the Movie Effect Creates Shelter Dogs“).
Or sometimes they are just unwanted gifts with a non-returnable label. (The madness has already started … Yorkies are popular and Staffies are not. Breeders are tripping over themselves in trying to speculate what will be the most popular breed for the Christmas rush!)
And the “crimes” that these canines have been convicted and then sentenced to a shelter for? Just being a canine in a materialistic world. A world where our loyalty and commitment only lasts until the next, latest and shiny new edition is released. Is this how we now label Man’s Best Friend? Are our beloved canines now seen as a cheap – and then disposable – commodity?
It’s Time to FIND Solutions!
Since it appears our collective common sense has gone out the window along with old-fashioned ethics, we need to find some new ideas and ways to protect the dignity and lives our always faithful companion, the dog.
Obviously the rules and regulations most government departments come up with are not working. Maybe we need to get the Kennel Clubs on board? After all, they are the experts about the breeding and showing all dog breeds in nearly every country in the world. They also have a huge influence on the dog-owning population of pedigree dogs. Since pedigree dogs end up in the same shelters as non-pedigree breeds, isn’t it time for the Kennel Clubs to actively campaign and advocate for much better treatment of all canines?
Mick offered a good suggestion on my last blog, Disposable Dogs? We Need to be Accountable for Our Behaviour, saying: “We should have to get a dog license before we get the dog. This will stop the ” let’s get a dog ” people. Have the licenses available from shelters only. That way a person will have to have contact with someone who can give information and education regarding dog ownership. The biggest problem will be enforcement of the above.”
Would licensing work? And what would it take to enforce dog licensing? Would follow-up visits be necessary to ensure ongoing assurance of good dog ownership practices?
Perhaps we need to address the source of the supply (which helps drive the demand). Do we really need to “farm” (aka puppy mills) or breed more dogs? Especially when you weigh it against the current over-population which is putting an unbearable, and unsustainable, strain on our local governments, charities and shelters alike. Over-breeding is bleeding us all dry!
So what’s YOUR suggestion to this problem? We all know too well that if we just keep ignoring it, this problem is not going to go away … it’s a problem that’s here to stay.
I know there are an infinite number of volunteer and animal rescue workers around the world that have thought about this issue on an almost daily basis. Let’s start sharing and working on some real “next steps” and potential solutions(s).
Looking forward to your comments, feedback and suggestions!
Most pet owners know that owning a dog (or cat) offers many wonderful benefits. They make us feel loved and cherished; they are always ready and willing to listen and cuddle close whenever we need it. They also make us laugh and feel part of something much bigger than just ourselves.
If you have a dog, or cat, with a sweet, loving and generous nature, have you ever thought that they could also help other people like they help you?
For the past few years, my two Border Terriers and I have been visiting older people with dementia and more recently, younger people with learning or physical disabilities. These visits are known as pet therapy (UK) or animal-assisted therapy (USA) for individuals with certain physical or mental challenges or disabilities.
Doing pet therapy means volunteering your time usually with a registered charity like P.A.T. (Pets As Therapy) or a similar organisation. These charities are aware of which hospitals, residential and nursing homes, hospices, etc., are looking for people to volunteer with their pets. In addition, these establishments also know which particular clients are interested in meeting your pet; this guidance is critical in ensuring a pleasant and rewarding experience … as not everyone is an animal lover.
My girls seem to love these visits immensely, meeting and being fussed over by different people and I have to say it always makes my day too! Seeing so many faces light up with huge smiles all because a dog has entered the room.
Some of these same people may have had to give up a beloved pet in order to be looked after full-time and others may have lost a dog in their lives that they still miss. These visits always create and bring such joy and positivity to not only these people’s lives, but also for the dog and its owner. Without a doubt, everyone is left with happy new memories from one of these visits.
Did you also know that pet therapy is believed to improve things like high blood pressure, actively stimulate thought processes and memories and also help promote positive mental health? To see someone who barely speaks on a day-to-day basis start to chat and interact with your dog and then to the people around them about their own dog, is so satisfying and heartwarming.
If you want to feel like a beaming, proud mum or dad, there is nothing better than hearing from the staff that your visit was remembered for days afterwards by the same people who sometimes can’t even remember their own name or where they are! That is the power of the dog … connecting and offering unconditional love to everyone they meet! Just like your pet does everyday with you, your dog makes everyone feel good about themselves and always leaves behind a smile and new happy memories of the time spent together.
While it may not be the first thing that pops into your head when it comes to volunteering and animals, nothing beats volunteering with your own dog or cat for such a good cause.
If you would like to know more about this subject, please visit P.A.T. at www.PetsAsTherapy.org or Animal-Assisted Therapy at www.animaltherapy.net/How%20to%20get%20started.html today and make someone’s day brighter (including your own!) with some pet therapy.
I’d love to hear from you if you have volunteered with your pet or are thinking about it, please leave a comment or share your story below.