It’s Not You, It’s Me

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

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)