It’s Not You, It’s Me

It's Not You, It's training obstacles - a learning experience. Via

Let’s admit, we’ve all been at that point with a dog where we are frustrated and confused. With Lola, I have felt this way many times. She was our first dog (not counting childhood dogs) and besides being ridiculously easy to potty train, she has challenged us with everything else. Rio has been the ‘easy’ dog and generally listens and picks up on things very quick.

Not that Lola is a bad dog. No, not at all. She doesn’t chew, doesn’t destroy things (besides stuffies and her toys) and is really one of the most loving dogs. Our issues: she doesn’t have a reliable recall. At all. She has a little bit of a ‘barking at unnecessary things’ issue. And as Antonio puts it, she can be a little bit of a burra at times.

To say Lola has kept me on my toes as her handler would not be an understatement. She’s tricky, because if you put her in an obedience class she has one of the most reliable recalls of all the dogs. And it makes sense: run to mom when called (versus strange people that I don’t know) and get rewarded with awesome treats – no problemo! Now put flyball practice into the situation and it becomes a game. Or insert a squirrel or rabbit into the scenario and you won’t get that reliable “come” until the object is out of sight.

“We’ve tried everything and nothing is working.”

Have you ever caught yourself saying that?

It’s easy, really easy to become frustrated, lose hope and push the issue aside using the excuse that it’s the dog’s fault. But what if it isn’t the dog? Maybe we just need to try harder, try differently, try understanding…Training and learning is an ongoing process as a dog owner, as a human being. And I notice that when I start to slack in my duties as a dog owner, it reflects in Lola and Rio.

She wasn’t purposely being stubborn as I just assumed she was – I was misguiding her. I was her biggest obstacle in training.

So maybe it’s not that your dog is stubborn, unwilling and just doing it out of spite. I believe that once we begin to realize this and make the change, that we’ll start noticing a difference. I don’t blame Lola’s recall issues on her – we as her owners have not practiced as we should nor have we set her up to succeed.

Lola was capable, Lola is capable. She just needs the right tools presented to her in a clear manner that she understands. Dogs generally want to please you and earn your acceptance and they will work hard to do so. But we have to make sure we are enabling them to succeed. And if we are continually rewarding them (in their minds) with the things we don’t want, why should we expect change?

Other dog training articles:

How We Stopped Leash Pulling

Can a Dog be TOO Food Motivated?

*Below are a couple of the dog trainers that I give credit to for inspiring me and whom I continue to look up to during my journey as a dog owner:

Sophia Yin (an amazing woman who will always be an inspiration)

Lori Nanan (Your Pit Bull and You)

10 Replies to “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

  1. Lola is such a cutie!

    I’ve totally been there with being frustrated. Zoe when she gets into her hunting mode doesn’t want to recall, either. We only let her off leash in certain areas now. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now.

    1. Hi Lauren! Yes, we’ve learned our lesson or two! Training is definitely a constant work in progress and never a ‘quick fix’. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Great post! Lola reminds me a lot of Kaya. She was so easy to housetrain, never destructive, so sweet & cuddly but a lot of work for me to handle out of the house. I made a myriad of mistakes in our first few months. I was convinced I couldn’t wear her out(or get her to stop pulling) on leash walks so I’d take her to the dog park all the time. There she spent her time jumping up & down on people, bugging the crap out of other dogs, stealing toys and knocking kids over. I’d sometimes take her on hikes or to the beach, let her off leash, she had no recall & so I spent the whole time yelling & being frustrated. After way too long, I realized I was doing it all wrong so I worked on her leash skills and spent nights watching youtube videos on clicker training and trying it out on her. After a couple months, I felt she had not learned a thing & we were just not bonding unless we were cuddled up in bed together. Looking back now I know a couple months is nothing. I had no patience! At that point I adopted Norman, which helped her a ton. She loved having her very own companion(I did too) & he mellowed us both out.

    Once I got her into fetch, I was able to play recall games involving fetch or getting the ball. Luckily this turned me into the kick ass ball throwing lady & not the mean lady who tells her to stop having fun. Her recall is pretty rock solid now. Way better than Norman’s even though she a total nutjob compared to him. I always call her first because he usually follows along with her.

    Well, this is my long winded way of saying, I can’t totally relate to the “It’s Not You, It’s Me” saying! I think I was under the delusional impression that with enough treats & praise, I could mold myself the “perfect” dog. I had to figure out the hard way how to understand the dog she is rather than expect her to be the dog she’s not:)

    1. I’m so glad you can relate and it sounds like they have a lot in common! And it’s sooo easy to get frustrated when they are not listening – but then that really comes back on me not practicing with her (and letting her get away with it). We’ve come a long ways, but of course there’s always room for improvement! Love ’em to death no matter what 🙂

  3. Oh goodness the dreaded recall. We’ve encountered that problem as well with our dog Laika. When there’s an animal around she’ll take off – luckily when we’re in the yard she knows that there’s a specific perimeter – she stops at the fence (which she could easily jump if she chose to). When we’re outside of the yard we must always have her on leash because it’s too unreliable. We’re still working on it, trying to make ourselves more interesting than a fleeing rabbit is pretty tough though. Sounds like you’re doing a great job with Lola – and yes, we’ve all had many of those moments with our dogs. And you’re right; it’s mostly us not communicating effectively enough or not practicing enough.

    1. Haha – yeah, it’s constantly a work in progress. We’re obviously not alone here though :). Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

  4. Haley’s recall was good, but we really struggled with not pulling on the leash when walking. I was so frustrated with it when she was young. I have to laugh now at how silly we might have looked while training, but like your experience with Lola, patience paid off. 🙂

  5. I just wanted to pop in and say I am SO happy I stumbled upon this blog! My partner and I recently adopted a 1-year old “American Bulldog Mix” (really, he is much more pit bull like, but with the unfortunate bylaw in my province, it would be illegal to say so) and we are finding it a bit of a difficult transition. He is absolutely wonderful, but has challenged us with the training. We officially start our obedience classes on this coming Sunday, but having this blog to read will also really help. Thank you! 🙂

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