Confessions Of A Dog Trainer. Which Is Easier To Train, The Dog Or The Owner?

Paws For A Minute® confessions 

Sometimes my day requires walking through a minefield of personalities with both the dogs and their owners. One specific client became an inspiration to me. I got a call one afternoon from a woman with a beautiful French accent named Sophie. I have a two-year-old little dog, named Maximus, she said.  He’s the world’s worst dog but I love him. He was a VERY mucho Dachshund and she proclaimed to need my help. He will not come to me when I call him! EVER. She explained that he was great as a puppy but now he simply tuned her out. I met with her the next day. As I rang her doorbell, I could hear Sophie shouting “No!” and “Come!”  The shouts were accompanied by the sound of footsteps and it was clear she was chasing the dog in order to catch him.  Maximus was barking which sounded like a rapid-fire machine gun. Sophie said hello and broke down. “I can’t do it.” I said, “you can’t do what?”  “I can’t be an Alpha dog over Maximus, I do not have the time to figure all that out,” she said.

I smiled at the irony. She was a very high paid executive with beautiful Minolo Blanik shoes and whose dog should have been named Barney.  I explained that teaching Maximus to come when called had nothing to do with being alpha dog. I showed her a quick technique that I called hide-and-seek. I said grab a treat and go into the other room and call Maiximus’s name 6 times. I will hold on to him and let go of his collar on the fourth call of his name. When he finds you ask him to sit and then give him the treat. She looked warily at me and went to hide. I know she was thinking, “just train the DOG.” I know, I know I was chanting to myself silently. The big treat for me is when the connection happens between the owner and the dog.  As she repeatedly called his name, I let go of him and he took off like a rocket towards her. Wow, it worked he came! I said, “all you need to do is practice this technique a couple times a week, perhaps on the weekend.” Sophie was elated and agreed to practice this technique with her boyfriend holding Maximus’s collar while she called his name a couple of times every weekend. Maximus’ personality did give Robert Deniro’s character in Raging Bull a run for his money; however, it was Sophie, the dog owner, I taught. I think you get what I mean, there are many ways to teach your dog to come and many different phases to advancing the actually command. Applying it in areas of you daily life is where you need this to happen. This technique is just one of them to try, apply and remember. It’s not always about your dog being smart, it’s about application!