Have you ever tried something new? I remember when I was learning to clicker train Manzo when he was just a goofy puppy, if felt clunky. I felt uncoordinated and a little embarrassed that something as simple as pushing a button on time was so difficult for me. Learning new things is hard and growth usually comes with a period of time where you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, and a little rattled. During the pandemic I remember when I had to get real comfortable, real quick with being on video. Facebook lives, recorded video to teach students skills I couldn’t show them in person and of course, over Zoom for our virtual training. It was difficult and I struggled through it in the beginning but now several years later, it feels as second nature as driving my car.
Okay, are you ready for a little bit of tough love? In order to help your dog behave and feel better, your own behavior has to change. Let me explain. You’ve likely been trying several different things with your dog, and maybe some of that is working but the reality is that if you don’t feel confident in your own skills then there is probably a fair bit of miscommunication going on between you and your dog. And that’s okay! We have all been there- myself included. So, a lot of people assume that as a “dog trainer” I can just take your dog and resolve their reactivity. When in reality maybe I can improve your dog’s behavior when they are with me. Since that doesn’t effectively change your behaviors, your routines, or your skills with your dog, then in the long run it’s not going to change anything.
I’m much more of a coach for dog parents than I am a dog trainer. In fact, when I teach my group reactive dog classes I never handle the dogs in the classroom. I coach the parents on what to do, they watch homework videos, and we practice together in class. And you know what- these dogs thrive! It lights me up to see the change not only in the dog’s behavior and specifically their reactivity but in their connection together as a team! Once a dog and human know exactly what to do and how to do it together, well, that's when the magic happens.
So hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that to help you with your dog- we need to help you first! Let me give you some more examples of where hands-off or virtual training has been a game changer for my students.
Let me introduce you to Fred. Fred was a pandemic pup and as a result he developed some reactivity that even led to a few bite incidents. His reactivity and aggression happened both in home, in his yard, and when on walks in the neighborhood. We met on zoom for 5 sessions where I showed his parents how to teach foundational skills to help Fred be more successful for when I would come to their house. We worked on leash skills, relaxation behaviors, and some patterns games to help prepare him for the big day. When I arrived and we began our session it was clear Fred was uneasy but he remained attentive throughout the whole session and didn't even bark once! His parents had learned what they needed to do to help their sweet boy, all without me stepping foot in their house!
Now let’s chat about Bailey. This sweet pittie had some unpredictable tendencies and while she didn't technically have a bite history, she had tried to bite a few times and that really frightened her family. Before meeting in their home we spent 2 months together meeting virtually to practice foundation behaviors but also to perfect her muzzle training so that when she was ready, our in-home lessons would be safer for everyone. We would meet every other week to train together live through zoom and her mom would send me their training videos 2-3 times per week in between for me to review and provide helpful feedback throughout the process.
Let’s take a moment to outline the benefits of this type of service for a reactive dog and their people:
You and your dog don’t need to feel stressed about a stranger being in your home. This makes for the ideal learning environment for everyone!
You have the accountability of homework assignments and sharing your own training session videos so we can provide fly-on-the-wall feedback to improve your own training skill.
Sessions are recorded so you can remember every single thing that was discussed AND share it with family members.
A client told me recently that working with me was more than just training, it was therapy. Having a coach on your team who has literally been in your shoes and taken the journey you are about to embark on, provides a deeper sense of understanding. I know what you are going through because I’ve gone through it too. I know what it feels like to be anxious just to step outside with your dog, not knowing what the world will throw at you today. Just remind yourself of this, you are the solution your dog needs to be the best version of themselves. You are their key to a happier, more relaxed life, and we’ll get there together.
If you're looking for someone who will show you compassion and empathy while holding your hand through the difficult journey of training your reactive dog, then I'm your girl. If you're looking for that gentle kick in the but of accountability to keep you going. Yep. That's me too. Oh, and if you want to change your dog's behavior without using force, or painful training techniques, then we absolutely need to chat!
Not sure if your dog is "reactive." Take the test in our free guide to see where your dog falls on the spectrum of behavior. Click here to get your free copy!