When I was a teen I did loads of sports. I competed in hockey, badminton, athletics, showjumping. It was a massive part of my life. But I was plagued with joint problems. I vividly remember walking down the corridors in school feeling my knee cap slipping.. slipping… slipping… and then POP back into place. Sorry if that made any of you squeamish. The one solution offered to my problem was to wear a knee support. When that didn’t hold it anymore? Get a sturdier support. Hold that knee in place!

Years and years passed, and guess what. My knees never got any better. Why? Because sticking a support on them didn’t do anything to solve the problem, it just stuck a plaster over it.

How you can deal with problems

There’s 3 ways that you can address your dog training (or whatever) problem.

1. Do nothing, ignore it

2. Stick a plaster over the problem

3. Find the root of the problem, and fix it.

Years on, I found the right people. They enlightened me to the fact that I have joint hypermobility. My knees got sore because the joint was moving beyond normal range, they were unstable. Once I found out what the actual problem was I was able to address it. Rather than continuing to stick a knee support on, I started to strengthen around my knees, I do pilates and weigh lifting and my knees rarely ever move out of normal range now.

For a while when the knee issue arose I did option 1. Nothing. It didn’t improve and probably got worse. I moved to option 2. Stick a plaster over the problem, a knee support went on, much later I moved to option 3. Find the root of the problem and fix it, I have strengthened my weak knees and solved my problem.

What does that look like in dog training?

tricolor beagle dog on the ground
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Take pulling on lead as an example, and your 3 problem solving options.

  1. Ignore the problem. Not much will happen, the pulling probably won’t improve and may get worse
  2. Stick a plater on the problem. That may be in the form of a head collar, or no pull harness, both of which make it uncomfortable for your dog to pull so they’ll probably do it less. But if you take the plaster off, your problem likely still exists.
  3. Find the root of the problem. Could be lack of understanding- your dog doesn’t understand exactly what you want from them. Could be motivation, maybe they’re more motivated to go say hi to other dogs or find a smell than to stay by your side. Whatever that reason is, if you can figure it out then you can then work on that root cause to find a solution.

Once you get into the mindset of finding root causes then you’ll find it creeping into every problem solving decision you make in life.

Why is your dog not coming back when you call them?

Why are they snapping when you put a harness on them?

Why is your teenage dog making stupid decisions?

Why does your puppy bite more in the evenings?

Why does your dog bark at other dogs?

Find your root cause, then find your solution. If you can’t find the root, reach out and I’ll help you find it!

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