Dog Training And Expectations

Some years ago a middle-aged woman came to see me with her one year old Kelpie, this lady was feeling overwhelmed by her dog. I asked her to write down what she expected and wanted from her relationship with her dog. What I got back from her was an amazing  list of 22 items, it taught me how much people expected of their dogs, and from me to help them. I have copied the list below as I feel that this lady is not alone in her expectations, and maybe we can all learn something from her list…..What I Want From My Dog

  • Companionship
  • Housetrained
  • Walks on a lead without jumping and biting
  • Gets in the car without hassles
  • Keeps his eye on me when off lead
  • Comes back on to lead when someone else appears
  • Fetches and drops
  • Awareness of roads
  • Comes at first call
  • Stays on command
  • Wags his tail when he sees me
  • Snuggles in for a pat
  • Doesn’t munch on me (mouthing)
  • Sit quietly while I eat
  • Doesn’t eat poo
  • Generally keeps the barking down
  • Sits quietly for people to pat him
  • Doesn’t jump up and claw
  • Can be gentle with children
  • Keeps off the table
  • Doesn’t steel pegs and socks
  • Keeps me friendly with the neighbours

Having a long list of immediate expectations of your dog can make many owners feel overwhelmed and foster a feeling of failure and resentment toward their dogs. This list was in my clients head, no wonder she was feeling overwhelmed with how to go about training all of them. A good trainer should help you organise these items in to some sort of order. A trainers job is to set their clients up for success, a clients job is to set their dog up for success.

The biggest pressure I feel as a dog trainer is trying to help people who have high expectations of their dogs and want behaviours fixed yesterday. Your dog trainer can only do so much to help, we give you the tools so that you can go ahead and practice them with your dog. Often, if an unwanted behaviour has been occurring for a long time, such behaviours may never stop, but rather require lifelong management. Be aware of any trainers claiming to ‘guarantee success’, this is not always possible as there are too many variables reliant on success.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your dogs behaviours write a list and prioritise them in order of importance for your specific situation. Work on only honing a few skills at a time then move on to the next skill, tick them off as you go.

I keep this lady’s list of 22 items on my office wall as a reminder of people’s expectations of their dogs, it helps me see things from a dogs perspective and helps me understand and sympathise with my clients when they come to me frustrated and upset. As a dog trainer my job is to make living with, and training your dog less complicated and therefore more enjoyable.


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2 Responses to Dog Training And Expectations

  1. Kalou says:

    Hi Katrina
    We have a 12 week old golden retriever and have had her since she was 9 weeks. At first she slept A LOT and was very cuddly and cute but lately she has had a lot more energy and barks whenever we put her in her crate for bed or when I’m cleaning ect. I stay home with her and we take her on 2 walks a day 30 minutes each in addition to getting plenty of attention throughout the day. She only is in her crate during the day 10 minutes at a time at most. It seems like she has been going a bit backwards with crate training and settling down for bed. Is she not getting enough exercise or is it too much?

    • katarina says:

      Hi Kalou,
      It sounds like she is getting everything she needs and not spending too much time in her crate. Dogs do what works so be careful that you are not letting her out when she is carrying on, wait until there is a break in the crying, then let her out. Always put her in her crate with something to chew/eat.

      If you are finding it too stressful you can always try a baby gate placed across a door, just make sure the room she is confined to is small and safe and the same rules apply- she is not to be let out unless she is quiet. Keep going with some sort of confinement as it is really the only way to house train a puppy, over time as she matures you can give her more freedom around the home.

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