The Cobbler’s Kids Are Occasionally Barefoot

I have a confession to make.  Brace yourselves.

I am a professional trainer, and my dogs aren’t perfect.

I’m obligated to mention this for a couple of reasons.

Laev asleep in the laundry

Laev asleep in the laundry

First, there are a lot of definitions of ‘perfect” in the training world, and many of them are in conflict.  Your household is different from mine; clients have individual needs and priorities. While I help many clients train a calm, quiet response to knocking or the doorbell, I don’t really mind (and kinda like) that my dogs rush the door and bark when someone arrives.  I do train them to then greet appropriately when cued, but I don’t need an apartment dweller’s quiet, calm response to a knock at the door.  In my remote house, I do like a noisy announcement of both the visitor and the dogs’ presence.

The owner of a 5-pound terrier may feel less motivated to work on loose leash walking than the owner of a 125-pound Great Dane, but she might spend more training energy on teaching polite and quiet door manners.  Yes, in a perfect world, both dogs would have both skills — but in real life, we prioritize and delegate time and energy accordingly.

Second — yes, trainers get real dogs, too. While we often choose our dogs with more care than some put into acquiring their new family member (though we are thrilled to help others make good puppy decisions as well), we still get real, imperfect dogs with typical and atypical problems.

At the time of writing, I have three dogs. One I spent two years researching before purchase, one was a considered rescue, and one was saved from the street and adopted. None of them (despite what I might tell them individually) is perfect; they all have natural inclinations and habits — some of them bad!

So, as a trainer, I’m supposed to deal with this.  And I do — to an extent. I pick those behaviors which bug me and I train them away; those behaviors which don’t bother me, I let slide.  If it’s not dangerous or annoying enough to prompt me to fix it, I can probably live with it. And that’s okay.

Sometimes clients are nervous about me coming into their homes and meeting their untrained pets. “Oh, your dogs must be great,” they say. “They’re probably totally trained.”

Well, maybe. My dogs are great. And they are well trained — as I choose to define it, for what I need in my household or our public outings. But they’re not perfect, and I’m certainly not comparing them to your dogs! And what I want trained may be different than what you want trained, and that’s fine.  I may offer suggestions based on long experience, but ultimately, we train what we need. “Good enough” is an acceptable answer, so long as you train what you do want.

But I am totally judging your housekeeping. I hate when your home is so much tidier than mine!

Enhanced by Zemanta

About Laura VanArendonk Baugh CPDT-KA KPACTP

Laura was born at a very young age and started playing with animals immediately after. She never grew out of it, and it looks to be incurable. She is the author of the bestselling FIRED UP, FRANTIC, AND FREAKED OUT. She owns Canines In Action, Inc. in Indianapolis, speaks at workshops and seminars, and is also a Karen Pryor Academy faculty member.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge