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Pressure on +R Dog Training: Don’t give in to it.

In 2001, I wasn’t as knowledgeable about  dog behavior as I am now or as confident so during a visit with a friend’s dog, a dog that had gone after my puppy on more than one occasion, I caved into the pressure of others around me; I allowed the dogs to visit without me in the vicinity.  What I thought would happen did happen and it was me who was breaking up the one sided attack while my friendly puppy Quinn, wanted to continue playing.  He turned out to be a great dog in spite of these early problems.

As a positive reinforcement trainer, I’ve experienced my share of pressure and doubt from outside sources and still do on occasion.

In the early days of having brought Sadie Mae in my life, I had people around me offering opinions and advice. I was in the ‘middle’ many times; the ‘middle’ being keeping my dog feeling safe and my guests happy.  It was a social ‘dance’ of keeping everyone from being embarrassed and pleasing them and honouring my dog at the same time.  A very difficult dance to say the least.

Everyone has an opinion on dogs and how to teach them and the pressure to use punishment can be great.  It makes us doubt ourselves sometimes, especially when the problem behavior isn’t ceasing and you’re feeling embarrassed, frustrated and angry.

My advice: don’t cave to the pressure but follow what your heart and your gut are telling you. When you bow to outside pressure, you put others before your dog and her needs when she needs you to be her advocate and teacher.

Quinn's 1st night home

Quinn & Catherine 2000

If you know better BUT you choose to listen to others and ignore that ‘inside’ voice,  don’t blame those that pressure you.

A big part of life is how we choose to react and you have a choice to respond and follow their suggestions or NOT.  Positive reinforcement training is not fully understood by many if they’ve never used it to train an animal so you’ll have to forgive them for their ignorance and educate if you so choose.

That day, I was furious with the people that I allowed to pressure me.  But that soon changed to anger with myself for not following what I truly felt was best for my dog. I realized it was my choice to cave to the opinions of others.   It exposed something within me and I didn’t like it; lack of belief in myself.  Hence, it became a learning experience.

I made the decision, the commitment, to never cave into pressure again if I felt it wasn’t what I truly wanted.

Move away from the pressure, tune it out, explain why you are choosing another way (if you wish too) but do not give into the wants of others who are NOT in your shoes, who do not know your dog. You know your dog better than anyone, than any trainer and always, always do what you think is right, what is best, based on your knowledge at the time and your experience. Its all we have at any given time.

Address your dog with a do no harm approach and you won’t go wrong.

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