Am I actually a dog trainer?

No…. and yes….

Picture by Jacob Henry

A few months ago I did a 1-1 session with a client and their dog and they emailed after, quite displeased that I only showed them how to train their dog, and didn’t just train it there and then. So why am I not actually training the dogs? Pretty good reason actually. Dog training is basically just creating habits.

Habit, noun

a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

Loose lead walking or settling down when you go out are good habits, excessive barking at dogs passing the window or pulling on the lead would be bad habits. When we teach our dogs a new behaviour it isn’t a habit yet, it’s just a behaviour they have earned reinforcement for (check out Why positive reinforcement isn’t what you think it is…). In humans “On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact” and that can vary based on the complexity of the habit and the individual.

This is why it is so important to be consistent with your training, and why there is absolutely no point in me coming in and training your dog for a single, or even a couple of sessions. I might be able to teach them the behaviour you want to see. They could do it beautifully, but they are most likely not just going to continue doing it from that day on! Especially when there’s already a pre-existing less desirable habit in place.

So what is my role in all this?

I am there to give you the strategies to create these good habits in your own dog’s lives. You are spending every day together- you have the power to reinforce the behaviours that you want to see become habits. I can help you to find the right things to reinforce and the right ways to reinforce. We can spot the start of behaviours and figure out why they happen and decide on a more appropriate behaviour to replace it with. What I’m doing is training the humans! I don’t actually train the dogs much at all. Maybe I should be called a dog training instructor instead!

I am still a dog trainer though, I have a lot of fun training my own dogs. It’s just not my job.

If you book training with me, be prepared to get to work! You will be spending a lot of time with your dog over their lifetime, it’s worth putting the effort in.

Think about what habits you are creating, and what habits you would like to see. Get to work on rewarding the stuff you want to see more of.

If you’re interested in 1-1 training, see here 1-1 Dog Training

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