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Please Don't Help Me Train My Dog!

By Grant Published: September 8, 2009

Or Please DO!

Make up your mind, Grant! Do you want help training your dog or not!?

Great question. Many of the dog obedience problems we see as professional trainers are caused by owners that don't understand HOW to train their pet. That makes sense. Most people haven't been trained professionally to train dogs. Arguably, the simplest/best thing you can do to help your dog is provide a consistent environment.

A month or so ago, we adopted Murphy. The people we adopted Murphy from had given him the "uncontrollable" tag. Maybe you saw this "uncontrollable" dog in the video with the baby? Well, anyhow, on our first walk (later the day we brought him home) that I took Murphy on, a couple streets over I saw a couple with two Golden Retrievers out in their yard. Of course you have to stop and swap dog stories. As I approached, one of them basically told me their dogs weren't really well behaved (great). I noticed they were giving their dogs some watermelon as a treat. So, when I got close, the guy asked if Murphy could have a bite. I told Murphy to sit. While I'd worked with Murphy a bit, we were still getting to know each other. Remember, I'd just gotten him. So as I tried to get Murphy to obey, the guy holds out the treat about six inches from Murphy's nose. Hmm... Brand new owner vs. nose/treat; guess who wins? So I'm standing there saying, "Sit Murphy, Sit" and this dufus gives Murphy the treat. Had Murphy sat yet? NO. And the guy wonders why his dog misbehaves?

Lesson 1: Don't reward your dog for unwanted behavior! To this guy: Get a clue and DON'T help me train my dog!

Murphy is still learning borders (no electric shock collars or electric fence, just command/recall). Murphy is also the typical Golden-"I love people and getting petted"-Retriever. When my next door neighbor has guests and Murphy is out, he has to go see people. He's getting better, but cannot help himself YET. So, as the people (that know Murphy) got out of their car, I was able to stop him twice with, "Murphy, no" or "Murphy, sit". Now, One would ASSUME that when that owner over their is telling his dog to sit and not come over here, the people would KNOW that I: 1) Want him to obey ME; and 2) stay in his yard. So what do they do? They get out of the car, bend over, slap their thighs, and say, "MURPHY!!"   REEEALLLY??? This is where in a cartoon you see the steam coming out of someone’s ears. So now Murphy is next door getting more attention than he deserves (none in my book- he didn't obey) and as the guy sits there and pets him, I'm continuing to say, "Murphy, YARD; Murphy, YARD" (We use 'yard' as a return call as opposed to 'come'). And the guy pets Murphy and says to him, "daddy's gonna be mad, you shouldn't be over here!" (yes, and continues to pet Murphy).
Lesson 2: Don't reward MY dog for unwanted behavior! To this guy: Get a clue and DON'T help me train my dog!

Or, could you help? If someone you know, or quite frankly even a stranger on the street, is working their dog, or trying to achieve a given behavior, please don't work against them! I cannot believe how often I am working a dog (and it's obvious, trust me) that someone walks up to pet the dog and doesn't ask, just interrupts the whole process. Dogs need consistent, repetition. A dog like Murphy that hadn't been expected to obey (see " This Dog is Uncontrollable") that is also a people pleaser doesn't need to have a session interrupted!

Saturday we were at a "pet event" where we had a table/booth. We always have a jar of treats out for people to give their dogs. I'll be the first to admit that this is highly hypocritical. I rarely give my dogs treats (they really DON'T need them) and seldom/ever allow them to get them from strangers. That said, it helps draw people to the booth and is the friendly thing to do (?). Anyhow, first I'm amazed at how many people come up, take a treat and ask if they can give one to MY DOGS. REEEALLLY??!! I'm sitting here for three hours and wasn't able to give my own dogs a treat? Thanks for stopping by and saving me/my dogs! Sigh. "No Thanks" I always say. Saturday, this lady responds, "Oh, it won't hurt them" and proceeds to give the treat to Murphy who was totally relaxed lying at my feet. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

Lesson 3: Don't reward MY dog (period!)! To this lady: I'm not even sure what to say that would be remotely professional. "Stay home" comes to mind.

Sigh.

Sorry if this blog is somewhat a rant, but that's what blogs are supposed to be: "What's on my mind" right now. I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. Back to the grindstone!

_____

Grant Holmes is Dog Obedience Professional and the owner of Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience & People Training. He loves working one on one with your dog in your home, working on the goals you've set for obedience & behavior! Any dog, any size, any challenge.

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