Stop Beating Yourself Up

by Louise Hart // August 2017

Stop Beating Yourself Up

Here at Dog School Leeds we see lots of dogs from tiny puppies to golden oldies, the oldest dog we have had in one of our classes at 11 ½ years young.  Owners are coming to classes for many reasons.

Puppies come to learn life fundamentals and their owners to learn about how to prevent problem behaviour right from the start.  This is obviously the best and easiest way to build good foundations.

For some of pups despite the owners best efforts to get things right things have gone wrong.  One example recently was a lady who had got her puppy from a small local breeder, she had met the pups mum and dad and had visited the puppy lots of times before she took the pup home.  There were no concerns at all, the breeder was doing a great job in a lovely family home and mum and dad were gentle, stable, calm adults.  From an early age it became apparent that the puppy was a sensitive little thing, easily spooked by new and novel things, sounds and experiences even though the owners had done all the right things with the socialisation making sure introduction to the world was done gradually at the pups pace and she was rewarded for being brave so she was not overwhelmed.  She hadn’t had any bad experiences which had resulted in a fear reaction, this pup was just one of life’s worriers.   As the pup became a juvenile this resulted in worried barking when she would see or hear things that scared her.  The owners were so upset and felt that they must have done something wrong and were mentally beating themselves up but they hadn’t done anything wrong at all. 

Juveniles and adults and rescue dogs of all ages come to our classes many of which have some great skills already that we can develop; for all those dogs that come to our classes with skills they have already mastered at home such as “sit” or “shake a paw” some have also learnt some great strategies too! Strategies for “I want that” and “I don’t want to do that”.  The owners may have tried to control this behaviour and it just keeps getting worse and worse and they too start to beat themselves up wondering what on earth they are doing wrong. These owners are not professional dog trainers but they are probably brilliant in their own chosen careers; as a professional dog trainer I know I would not find it easy to be a nurse or accountant or a lorry driver without support, advice and training either.

At Dog School we can help, we can guide owners to positive reward based training methods which do not seek to control unwanted behaviour but instead help the dogs make the right choices, learn to do the things we do want them to do and build self-control and confidence at the same time.  We may also help reboot relationships between dogs and owners to be positive and guilt free. 

So stop beating yourself up and give us a call – see what you and your dog can achieve together.