Spoiler Alert!


As a dog groomer who often suggests training to our clients, I hear it all the time: “We took Fluffy to training classes but it didn’t do any good. We have no control over her.”

the dog is wearing a harness of course, but that’s not the only reasdon they have no control.

Most of us know the reasons, but for those who don’t, they are:

  • Not practicing what they’ve learned in class enouhg;
  • wrong techniques that get to be a habit;
  • everyone in the household not being on the same page;
  • the spoiler.

When we offer group dog training, we should start with a disclaimer about why what they are experiencing in class won’t work, and how they can remedy the issues they will face.We need to address what to do and what not to do.

An analogy I started using is an experience I had recently getting physical therapy. The therapist has you go through various exercises. You have to do them at home, every day. Paying a therapist once or twice a week won’t help you heal.

Similarly, if you don’t re-enforce what you’re learning in class, coming to class is a waste of money.

We want people to have healthy relationships with their dogs. The reason we teach what we teach is because they are exercises people will find very useful at home, In fact, I’ve started also teaching ‘turn around’ as well as giving instructions to dog owner so they can teach their dogs to eliminate on command.

Personally, I don’t care if your dog is under control until I meet you on the street, or come to your home. But you spent money to get schooled, so you may as well get something out of it.

Also, there are several right ways of getting a dog under control, but a bunch of wrong ways. I am from a generation where we thought tricking a dog and causing pain got the message across. I’ve trained my last several dogs using positive re-enforcement, and high value treats to motivate them. That, and repetition, worked. Sometimes dogs aren’t motivated by treats or praise. In that case, you may have to seek an animal behaviorist, but the positive re-enforcement method has worked statistically so many times, I strongly encourage you to use it.

Also, once you get the behavior you want, either move on to another part of training or stop…and go back after at least half an hour. Don’t bore your dog. But don’t stop, either, until you get an increment. Always stop on a positive note, If you are losing patience, it’s not the dog’s fault. go back later.

Now we get to why training usually fails: the madhouse you live in. it would be funny were it not so tragic. Everyone has to want the dog to succeed. if you have one person who doesn’t, this is not going to work. So sorry, but you may need family counseling—or coaching, if you can’t figure this out on your own. Do you have a child with emotional issues? Someone jealous of the dog? Someone who doesn’t like the dog? Like a spouse? Someone who thinks they want the dog to love them best? That lets me segue into…who is the Spoiler?

Been there, done that….I’ve lived with a Spoiler for over a decade. He loves the dogs, but he refuses to do what he needs to do to get the dogs under control. At least they aren’t too large for him to handle…but what if they were? At least they don’t try to actually control him…but what if they did? Were this a serious problem for me, we probably wouldn’t be living together. That said, I’ve seen marriages break up over this: dogs that wouldn’t allow a spouse in the bed, dogs that wouldn’t allow the kids to tough them, yet the adult owners kept the dogs around. Those behaviors are inexcusable, and obviously a symptom of a bad dynamic that comes out when a dog enters the picture.

Most of us dog trainers are not life coaches because we aren’t licensed psychologists. That said, we are really good ar understanding nonverbal communication. If you aren’t getting results practicing daily with your dog, you might want to invite a dog trainer over to your household to get an idea of what is going on.

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