My dog is out of control, How did I get here?
Every day I get about 6 phone calls asking about my dog training services and just about every phone call is the same. I have a (insert breed) dog who we all love so much, he is smart and is wonderful, he pretty much is housebroken we got him from (insert well known breeder, that I have never heard of or care about) but we are having some issues with him that we want to get worked on, he went to puppy socialization and basic obedience for 6 lessons. Is he too old to train? He is 3 years old. I say “Great, what kind of issues are you having?” Well, he pulls on the leash, I am the only one who can walk him , my wife gets knocked down when she tries to walk him. He jumps up on counters and steals food and if we try to take it away he growls at us. He barks at everything going by our house and won’t stop, he barks and lunges at guest coming into the house and if they try to pet him he snaps at them. He does sit if I give him a treat but does not stay for more than 2 seconds and he does Down maybe 25% of the time but jumps back up within seconds and if I don’t have a treat he won’t do it. Every time I take him in the car he barks at everything, people, dogs, bikes trucks and it stresses me out that I cannot stop it.
I cannot get him to come back to us when he is in the backyard and I want him to come back, I stopped taking him to the dog park since I could not get him to come back and he started getting into dog fights. Every time my kids have friends over I have to put him away since he snaps at the kids friends.
So.......what part of the dog ownership experience are you enjoying?
This is NOT about my training methods, it is NOT about who your trainer is, frankly I could care less how you train your dog or what methods you use. I just want you to train your dog. All of the things that you are complaining about are my MINIMUM requirements for dog ownership, I am wondering “How did you get where you are with your dog?” What happened or did not happen? At what point of you being frustrated every day did you not realize that something was not working out? At what point did you realize that you cannot take your dog in public without causing a big scene? At what point did you realize that if you did not fix these things you would have to get rid of your dog? You say you would never do that, but for some reason we keep killing 4 million dogs a year, they belonged to someone, someone like you, who most likely said they would never kill the dog they loved, but had to make that hard choice to turn the dog into an animal shelter where unfortunately dogs tend not to thrive and end up being killed if not in the first 24 hours eventually they get killed.
Is it possible that we as a society can try to raise the bar of dog ownership and put more emphasis on building a nice foundation of rules, structure, exercise and boundaries in order to make sure that we not only have an obedient dog but a well behaved dog. You should be able to take your dog everywhere with you in public. You should be able to take your dog for a nice walk, both on leash and off leash without pulling, lunging or barking. You should be able to stand in line at the lemonade stand with your dog ignoring everything around you and your dog should just be able to be calm next to you waiting until you have made your purchase and then move on. You should be able to go to a outdoor cafe and put your dog into a downstay and your dog does not move. You should be able to go to a outdoor sports game and your dog lays down and minds his own business even with the crowd cheering and people running by you. You should be able to take the opportunity when you see an open field you can run your dog off leash and it always comes back to you when you call, even with high level of distractions. All of this can be yours for the taking. There is no reason why 99% of the dogs out there cannot live this life, no matter the age, breed or the background of the dog.
With so many families struggling with these issues, I can feel your pain, I was with you just 10 years ago, that is why I got into dog training, I had that dog that I describe at the start of the blog post. I was the guy on the other end of the phone call, I was making the same calls to the trainers, unfortunately it was VERY challenging for me to find a trainer that could actually help me.
I want to be able to help you, if you are struggling with any of these issues let me know I will recommend a dog trainer in your area that can help you. So many trainers like myself who balance reward as well as proper corrections can get the results you are looking for.
Jeff Gellman owns the Rhode Island dog training company, Solid K9 Training.
Solid K9 Training Providence, RI (401) 527-6354
Solid K9 Training 210 24th Street Brooklyn NY 11232 (401) 527-6354