Dogs behave differently for Dog Trainers, but why?

In the blog post I wrote yesterday I mentioned how when other trainers would take Bundy off my hands he instantly behaved better, didn’t push them like he pushed me “it’s all in the body language and attitude” was basically what I would get told

And yeah it made me feel like a piece of poop that someone could get it right with him and I for the life of me couldn’t but it also made me curious.

I watched the effect I would have on dogs as I would turn up to peoples houses for a consult.

Hearing clients say things like, he is normally worse than this, he isn’t normally this responsive, I’ve never seen him act like this before.

It wasn’t just me, there was something deeper going on but what was it?

Why did dogs act differently around a trainer vs a guest showing up at the house.

Look my ego wanted to believe it’s because I am just that great, but a different part of me the one that keeps my fat headed ego in check knew that wasn’t it.

It wasn’t until I had kids, when I started questioning, pulling a part and basically throwing most of what I had been taught about dog training out the dam window that I started to see what was happening.

And it wasn’t dogs that showed me but my kids.

They behaved better for other people, they were angles, my daughter is incredibly head strong, heaven help the world when she grows up nothing is going to get in her way when she gets an idea.

But if you asked family, those at daycare, she’s great, doesn’t chuck tantrums, doesn’t spit, my god I hate how she spits, and she knows I do that’s why she does it, to wind me up. She’s different she shows all her best qualities and reserves her demon side for when she is at home.

I couldn’t help but ask why? I had minded friends kids and watched the same thing happen, they were perfect for me, they made me want more kids until their parents would come back to pick them up, their parents would stay for a cuppa and all of a sudden the monsters in them come out to play.

If you’re a parent you probably know this to be pretty accurate, if not please send me a message telling me how your bub was brewed I want to get the recipe right if I ever decide to have a third.

I couldn’t help but look into it a little more, observe what was going on and try to come up with a why.

And it’s pretty straight forward really, they are comfortable with their parents, same with dogs, they know how deep or shallow the limits and boundaries are in an individual situation, they know how far they can push, which buttons to press, its built within us institutionally to be cautious to hold back when things are new to take our time testing it, understanding it.

When a trainer rocks up to someone’s house, everyone is on their best behaviour, owners feel like they are being put in the spotlight, no one likes being told they are wrong, even when your paying for it, it’s enough to leave your tummy in knots.

So again by instinct we hold back how we really are with our dog, we keep it together, cool calm and collected, the dogs sense the shift, this isn’t an ordinary house guest on top of that it’s someone new, someone that carries themselves differently, doesn’t treat us the way normal house guests do.
It’s one of the reason why we moved into fusion programs, and why we don’t immediately run out to clients houses, why what the client has to tell us and what they can show us via video is so much more accurate and valuable then if we were there in person.

Don’t get me wrong there is still value in having a trainer be there in person,

but this is where it can do more harm then good.

Trainer shows up the show runs smoothly the dog is on his best behaviour you get hope that it’s going to be this easy, this simple and FINALLY you are going to start getting over the humps and bumps and be able to have the dog you know he can be. You seen it right before your eyes, your dog did things just as he should, progress has been made!

Then the trainer leaves, you go to implement what you have been taught, it’s a mess, the dog plays up, you are fumbling more than the session before, it’s you. Nothing is ever going to change because you can’t get it right.

Well you can now safely tell that voice to shut the fuck up because it’s a combination of things.

I always think back to when I was learning the registers at Kmart, I had worked in retail since leaving high school, I wasn’t a newbie to the good ol’ registers but at Kmart their screens looked like the computers had come straight from the 80’s my brain just couldn’t retain the information it took 4 or 5 days to really get into the swing of it, I would do well by the end of the shift confident the next day I would be able to do the shift without a buddy.

I would arrive and stare at the screen my mind almost completely blank, but I did so well yesterday, I had this, why can’t I remember it now.


It’s natural for a new behaviour to regress as you are learning, no matter how well you do in a training session, no matter how well you do learning something new, your brain will only retain so much of that information.

This is why kids love repetition and why we need it, again another thing we share in common with dogs, the path ways, muscle memory all of it has to build over time.

What happens in that training session is irrelevant, its what happens after that and the next one and the next one.

What’s important is that you have someone ensuring that you are bit by bit headed in the right directions, the more guidance you have on that making sure everyone is learning as they should, the quicker things start to take shape.

The most important part of the learning and training experiences you have with your dog is not the session you have with a trainer but what is happening in between those sessions.

It’s also why DIYing it can go at a snails pace, or just add more stuff to the mix that isn’t really doing much at all, but hey you FEEL like you’re doing something, right?

There is so much free information out there, why wouldnt you snatch it up and give it a go? Because every dog, every person learns differently and the free vidoes out there isnt set up for that.

There is more free information out there than ever before, there’s a flood of it really, but because it’s free trainers don’t take the time to collect data on it they don’t keep track of how people are actually progressing and how well that educational process is actually working in the favour of people, it doesn’t grow it doesn’t change as it needs to as it should to help you guys the most.

This is why we don’t have our free stuff shoved in your face, plastered all over the joint and are selective in how we present it, we also don’t say yes to every person we speak to in fact there are a lot of times when I’m like oh you just want to learn recall? Loose leash walking? That’s it? You’re not focused on behaviour, deepening connection, communication? Cool, that’s not what we solely focus on here’s what you should do, where you should go.

But you’re not going to know the direction you should be heading in, what is really going to fit your needs, until you start reaching out.



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