In dog training, people come to me every day hoping to transform their dogs from bullying, objectionable, snotty, over exuberant behavior to calm, respectful, playful, and intelligent behavior. And they want the relationship shift overnight (but are willing to take a 6 week dog training class to substitute overnight).
And I think to myself, What would have happened to my husbands and my relationship if on our first date I really fell for the guy (as I obviously did!!!), went to his apartment, saw his bachelor-like lifestyle, proceeded to bring him to my home from his “shelter” and expect a great relationship…all without me ever spelling out the new code of conduct. (Exactly like how we bring home a new dog from a shelter or breeder, etc.) And we change all the rules! Wait- what!? No more unmade bed? No more cereal dishes left on the counter filled with milk? No more wet towels sitting on the bedroom carpet? Water the plants each week? Feed the cat every day? Don’t listen to the TV too loudly at bedtime? Go to sleep every night at 9? No more listening to music till 2am? And this all has to happen NOW and you are not going to tell your new boyfriend/ husband (new dog) the new rules- you are just going to expect them? Of course my good dear husband would have a few objections!! But that’s okay- I would be willing to send him to a 6 week relationship course training program. I would even read the necessary homework so I could clearly tell him his chore list in a language he understands. I would make a few adjustments to my lifestyle so he could better incorporate into it. And daily continuing education? I totally got that- he can sit patiently and quietly after I come home from work while I read a book. Because I will be too tired to walk with him on a daily educational and structured walk, or drive with him to the store so he can buy his own food or go hiking with him on the weekend. If my good dear husband barks at me, I will tell him to go lay down. And I would not question why he doesn’t comply and adjust well to his new lifestyle- even though I just loved the heck out of him. I wouldn’t understand why. I would think he must have been abused in his past. Just send him back to his original shelter!
Do you see how crazy this is?
We have to start looking at the dog training and education process as continuing, as two sided with the humans doing a lot of reading, hands on work, with lifestyle changes. Not just expecting the dog to do all the heavy lifting, come home a champ and nail all the old issues up and throw them away. A board and train, or 6 week training program, or 1 hour class, is just and only just, touching that ice berg. You can only see 10% of what is sticking out of the water. 90% is still lying under the surface. It will be amazing, awe inspiring, most wonderful experience seeing the whole ice berg, but it takes time. Years. Focus. Dedication. Mistakes. Frustration. It’s dog training. It won’t be easy.
But it has to be continuing.