Hey guys let's address one very common myth out there:
"DOGS WANT TO PLEASE"
They really don't, if you think about it, every dog has an agenda. They "want to please" because it's convenient to that particular dog in that particular scenario. In other words, they are doing whatever they can to "please" themselves.
But let's look at it from a very practical and common sense perspective: If dogs want to please, why is dog training a booming industry? Why does your average dog do things that your average pet owners needs help with?
Simple, because they don't "want to please".
In the video below and in my book I explain the difference between more biddable dogs and more independent dogs. The biddable dogs are the ones that make it seem like it's a dogs' nature to want to "please" but in reality it has little to do with that and more to do with the appeasement mechanism of its interactions in order to maintain harmony.
Just remember that if we convince ourselves that dogs in general "want to please", it would automatically put us in a state of disappointment when they are simply making mistakes or doing things dogs do that aren't very "pleasing" to us. That's when people get upset, that's when people blame the dog.
If you just look at the dog as a dog, an animal that has its own agenda, an animal that makes mistakes like any other being on this planet, then you will be less likely to take those mistakes personally.
So don't be a douche, it's not all about you, it's ultimately about them.
There are so many dog trainers that start off with the right mindset only to eventually get burned out and QUIT.
"Not me! Dog Training is my Passion". No trust me, it can and it WILL happen to you, the trick is to be able to see it before it gets too out of hand.
Before I give you some tips, you have to remember that your brain is wired to create shortcuts. This is why a difficult task eventually becomes second nature if practiced enough. It's too exhausting so you naturally have the ability to go on autopilot. Your subconscious takes over and before you know it you don't have to put that much mental effort into a task that once seemed incredibly difficult.
Let's face it, despite the appeal of training dogs and working with animals, dog training can be very monotonous. Eventually it can seem like you're just stuck and all you're doing is teaching the same thing again and again. Sometimes it's work.
Remember why you started.
There are a number of reasons you decided to become a dog trainer, but there's one in particular that made you take that leap. Go back to that reason(s) and let that reason drive you when dog training starts to seem like a chore.
For many of us that reason was "I hate what I do, I want to work with animals". So remember what you used to do and realize that even though this industry has its downs, it still beats stocking boxes on a shelf or working in a cubicle.
Another thing you can do is realize what your life would be like if you didn't train dogs. What would you do? would it mean you'd have to go back to that job that doesn't fulfill you?
I've found that going back to this as a way to motivate me has helped me many times when dog training feels like a chore.
Take on a hobby!
Seriously if you don't take time off, you're gonna burn yourself out. I don't care how much you love to train dogs, you have to take time and focus on yourself. This will allow you to reset and come back fresh. But it's necessary!
Imagine your favorite dish! or dessert. Now imagine you have to eat that every single day, 3 times per day. You probably wouldn't last more than a few days before you got sick and tired of your favorite dish. So please take time off.
Here are some things you can do:
You can start a workout regimen and set fitness goals.
You can go shooting once per week or once a month.
You can pursue something new on the side (a new language, study a new subject, etc.)
You can plan vacations months or weeks in advance (doesn't have to be a long vacation, it can be a whole day where you just go on a hike, camping, etc.)
You could do a combination of these.
There have been times in my career where I felt every dog acted and looked the same because I was literally training dog after dog, all day long.
What helped me here was to set goals. I told myself things like: "I have to learn something new from this next dog", "Next training session I will be more creative on my approach", "Next month I will read this many books on dog training".
By setting goals you're getting your brain out of that routine pattern. You're actually telling your brain to go look for new things.
I realize this isn't really a tip, it's more of an option I'm giving you. It's OK to move on. You don't have to train dogs if you feel this no longer fulfills you. Maybe you gave it a try and you found out cleaning dog poop off the ground from time to time isn't your thing.
Maybe the risk of getting bit here and there isn't something you're willing to live with. This is all OK, you can move on. No one cares, you need to do what you feel is best for you.
A WORD OF CAUTION. What you don't want to do is quit. Everyone gets tired, everyone gets bored. The going gets tough in EVERY industry and EVERY professional field. If you ask anyone who has accomplished anything or anyone who is very happy with their career choice you'll see that they too had tough times and that there were many times they wanted to quit. I myself have felt this way a handful of times.
What you don't want to do is quit during these times because what will end up happening is you'll take that quitting attitude to the next phase in your life. You'll do something else, you'll get bored and you'll quit again. So be careful with this.
Only move on if you feel like this truly doesn't fulfill you. If you don't see yourself doing this long term and there are things you truly feel more compelled doing. In other words, if you already have something in sight that you know will make all the difference in your life and it has nothing to do with dog training, then yes, it's time to move on.
If you simply are tired, exhausted and bored and feel like you just want to stop, that's not moving on, that's quitting.
Written by my buddy Jason Sigler, a dog trainer who experienced this first hand.
It’s Common But it’s not Normal.
Several years ago, I had a German Shepherd (GSD) that I adopted from a rescue. He was intelligent, strong, and a bit of a jerk, but he had all of the necessary drives I wanted in a demo dog as far as training was concerned. At the time I had never had a GSD, but had always wanted one. And now I did. He was two-years old when I adopted him and he seemed to be pretty slim. My immediate thought was that he’d be putting on weight soon as I use a lot of treats when training. Over the course of a few weeks I noticed that he had very soft, greasy looking bowel movements. I asked my mentor about it, and she told me that loose stool is completely normal in GSDs. Being a novice trainer and she being the resident subject matter expert on all things GSD I didn’t give it another thought.
So, three months later I was graduating from dog training school with Gibbs, my GSD. The adoption was finalized and he was now the newest addition to my family. Prior to traveling across country with him I decided to have my Veterinarian look at him for a full physical, just to make sure that he was physically healthy. The Doctor called me the following the day and informed me that Gibbs had Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).
The doctor went on to tell me that the first tell-tail sign of EPI is loose, greasy stool. I told him that I was told loose stool like that of Gibbs’ was completely normal for GSDs. The doctor then laid some knowledge on me by saying, “loose stool like Gibbs’ is very common in GSDs but it’s not normal.”
So, what is EPI?
EPI is the inability of the acinar cells of the exocrine pancreas to produce and secrete enzymes necessary for the proper digestion of food. In other words, the pancreas stops producing the enzymes needed to absorb nutrients from the food they eat.
EPI is sometimes referred to as Pancreatic Hypoplasia or Pancreatic Acinar Atrophy (PAA). EPI can also be the secondary condition of a chronic illness, such as chronic pancreatitis. Without these enzymes, the digestive tract is unable to absorb nutrients from the food, which causes further health complications if not managed appropriately. Because the food is not being fully digested and nutrients aren’t getting absorbed despite eating copious amounts of food; the dog is constantly hungry, malnourished and can literally starve to death. Without proper treatment, dogs with EPI can die a painful death from malnourishment, starvation and in severe cases multiple organ failure.
Due to EPI; organ, immune, nervous and all other body systems become compromised to one degree or another. A lack of nutrients often results in temperament changes which may present themselves as one or more variations of aggression (in Gibbs’ case it was resource guarding and predatory aggression). It is an overwhelming, maddening disease that is misdiagnosed more often than not. What makes this disease so difficult to diagnose is that symptoms don’t usually show until 80% and 95% of the exocrine pancreas acinar cells are destroyed. And, not all dogs display any or all of the symptoms at all. Any breed can have EPI, but the most common are GSDs.
What does EPI look like?
EPI can manifest anytime in a dog’s life, from a young pup to an elderly dog, with the severity and symptoms of the disease varying from dog to dog.
Common symptoms include but not limited to:
Stools are very soft (loose) and appear greasy.
The amount of stool passed will appear to be the same as the amount of food consumed.
Increased rumbling sounds from the abdomen.
Increased amounts of flatulence.
Gradual wasting away despite a voracious appetite.
Some display a personality change.
So, if I suspect it, how do I test for it?
The only way to positively confirm EPI is with a TLI (Trypsin-Like Immunoreactivity) blood test.
Because GSDs and their crossbreeds make up the majority of diagnosed EPI cases, anytime a gastrointestinal upset persist with a GSD, it is strongly recommended that you have them tested for EPI.
What is the treatment for EPI?
Every dog is different and will require a different treatment protocols for effective management. Be prepared for a long stressful road to stabilization. Be aware too that this road will not only put a strain on your emotions, but will also place considerable tension on finances as well.
Most, but not all, dogs with EPI require a grain-free food with mild protein that is easier for the body to digest with what little digestive enzymes they have naturally.
A dog with EPI will require enzyme replacements in EVERY meal. I had the best results with Pancrezyme. However, it was very expensive. At the time depending on the Veterinary clinic you purchased it from it cost $110.00 - $130.00 per jar and one jar lasted about three weeks. It worked out to around $4,500 a year in just the replacement enzymes alone. Raw fresh beef, pork or lamb pancreas can be used as a natural enzyme replacement, but depending on your geographic location it can be near impossible to find a meat market that carries it.
Having a dog with EPI is an absolute nightmare. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to live with. It can be managed. If the dog is positive for EPI don’t let anyone fool you into believing that simply feeding your dog probiotics will solve the problem because it won’t. Remember that the root problem with EPI is that your dog lacks the digestive enzymes necessary to properly absorb nutrients from the food they eat. Therefore, if you give the them probiotics they still won’t get any benefits from them if they cannot absorb them. They go in probiotics – they come out probiotics. The key to management is in the Enzyme replacement.
Sure, it’s very common for GSDs to have large, greasy, soft stools…. But it is not normal.
What would be the one thing that will make you a better dog trainer this year, this month, this week, or even this very day?
Everyone is familiar with "New Year's" resolutions, new year-new me. A lot of people like to rag on people who do this because most people fall off the wagon.
So what I did this year is rather than write a resolution, which by the way I haven't done in years as I also find it invaluable, I instead wrote a letter to 2018. This actually got me riled up.
Have you ever written a letter to someone? a charged up letter? Like an EFF-YOU letter? That's pretty much what I did. It helped me at least.
So without further ado, I'll list some things that can make you a better dog trainer this year!
OPEN YOUR MIND:
Yes, just open your mind. I know it sounds trivial but becoming a better dog trainer is as simple as seeing different views other than your own.
This means reading and looking into material that you're NOT familiar with. Even if the thought of it makes you slightly uncomfortable.
Simply put, if you are a die hard Purely Positive trainer, read material written by Balanced Trainers, maybe actually "talk" to some of these balanced trainers. You'd be surprised at how many dog trainers are actually willing to talk if you ask with an open mind.
Same on the flip side! If you're a Balanced trainer, read some material written by a Purely Positive author. As a Balanced trainer you may tell yourself "But I started as a Purely Positive Trainer". True, you may have already been exposed to that and decided there's more to just using two sides of the quadrant, but the perspective or refresher that some of these trainers offer can be valuable. I've found myself reading and watching material from Purely Positive trainers that made me go "hm, interesting", because you can learn or remember a bunch of things.
Even if you think "If I do read or watch material from X,Y,Z trainers, I know 90% of it will be BS". GREAT!! That means there's 10% of good info that can make you better.
CAUTION: This caution will be a bit of a contradiction to what I just said. But there are things I will just not look at. Material from trainers who have consistently proven to be incompetent. It takes experience to be able to discern this and you would know who is incompetent by actually watching or reading some of their material. So technically, you still want to be open minded and explore methods and trainers you're not familiar with, if anything, at least to be able to say "I don't like him/her".
DECIDE TO BE BETTER:
I know this sounds very Tony-Robbins like but it's imperative that you don't just expect to be better by accumulating years under your belt. I used to think that a while ago but I can't tell you how many times I've met dog trainers who have had years of experience who were absolutely clueless!! These people talk about their experience like it's a badge, and it's NOT! Some of the dumbest things I've seen and heard came from people with "Years of Experience".
Basically, going through the motions again and again will NOT make you a better dog trainer. You actually have to WANT to be better. You have to TRY to be better. You have to DECIDE to be better. You have to ACT on that decision and BE better. This means approaching EVERY training session as if it's your first and your last training session rather than just looking at it as "just another dog".