The secret to dog training is that their is no secret. Often times, owners feel frustrated because it seems like the dog is willing to perform for the trainer and not the owner. Because of this, owners often have the same questions.
Why does he listen to you and not me?
What if he's so excited that he doesn't hear me?
What if I walk him after work and I'm tired and he pulls?
Am I doing it wrong?
What if I don't have time to train him?
Most often, the missing key to the puzzle is consistency. Consistently praising the dog for good behaviours, and holding the dog accountable for bad behaviours or nonsense. Lots of owners tend to be overly lenient on their dogs when they are behaving poorly whereas the trainer would hold the dog accountable. Don't get me wrong, It's hardly a crime for an owner to want to be as gentle and loving as possible. It's never done with the intention of allowing the dog to develop new bad habits or fall back into previous habits.
Nonetheless, by denying the dog structure we also deny the dog valuable pieces of information that'd help maximize the bond between the dog and it's owner. The thing that tends to set trainers apart from owner, is that trainers are not afraid to hold a dog to a standard that they know the dog is capable of achieving and surpassing. Because the dog surpasses, we praise heavily! Eventually, the dog becomes accustomed to a level of competence under such high levels of distraction that the temptations of normal day-to-day life become nothing more than a pile of victories waiting to be had as the dog chooses to obey with no attention to spare for such things. Because the dog is trained to such high standards, we feel confident in the dogs performance as well as our guidance which leads us to expose the dog two new things and under more freedoms. Consider this, how much more freedom would your dog have if it was completely consistent on and off leash? Would you be willing to exercise it more? Would you like to take it places more often?
There are lots of people that consider balanced trainers to be correction-happy dog haters. The truth is quite the opposite. We don't teach dogs and build accountability because we want the dogs to fail. We hold dogs accountable because it's such a fantastic moment of triumph when the dog is posed with the opportunity to obey or disobey and chooses to obey. It serves as a wonderful example of a dog's intellect. As well as its ability to weigh it's options and make the best decision. In short, we train the way we do for a couple reasons. We have seen so many instances where accountability has been directly responsible for saving dog's lives, and we are firm believers that with training, any dog is capable of making good choices.
Now in regards to owners who feel like they are too busy to train their dogs because they pull, jump, etc. We sympathize with you. I mean we totally get it! You're not a professional, and it can be so frustrating to deal with a misbehaved dog after a long day's work. The flip side to this though, is that if you just put in a bit of time to work with the dog then you no longer deal with a misbehaved dog. And walking a dog that has a heel command properly down packed is such an empowering feeling! It's almost hard to explain through a blog post, there's this sense of connection between you and the dog. Like the dog actually understands what you want and wants to work for you. Many times I've seen owners see their dogs for the first time since training and almost can't believe just how much a dog can flatter the owner by completing commands before the novice owner has time to stop stumbling over their commands before finally spitting out the intended one. The relationship becomes almost like a partnership. Like a faithful sidekick who has one goal in mind, to serve you. M
oral of this story, sacrifice a bit of free time and do the hours of work to enjoy the years of benefits of a well trained and socialized dog.