I’m Afraid of Ruining My Dog, Please Help
My Boy 🙂
I recently got a message from a fellow dog owner who is afraid of ruining her dog. She is so afraid she is going to do something wrong that she is afraid to even get started with her dog.
I totally understand what she is saying so I thought I would tackle this thought and feeling before people let it get out of hand.
I suppose to some people it sounds silly, but for those of us that suffer from it; it can be very real.
I say “those of us” because for once I actually feel this way too.
If you are really worried about making the BIG mistakes click here for the top 5 ways to ruin your dog.
I’ve always been super confident in my dog ownership and training… until I got into competition work and protection sports.
Then I realized my dogs have GREAT and OUTSTANDING obedience, but sometimes they lack very specific precision to make them stand out in this tremendously competitive world.
I can lose major points if my dog simply glances from my face at the ground, or looks around when shots are fired from a 40 caliber gun. He is also supposed to maintain perfect position without forging or lagging and swiftly pivot at corners to keep up with me.
It really isn’t easy! And, I don’t have a very competitive nature.
I must admit my girlie drops her focus on occasion so we lose some points here and there.
And, although I am going back and re-teaching a lot of things I don’t really like doing corrections and compulsion and I believe that teaching her to go running with me etc. broke her focus early in the beginning.
Let’s face it; if you are going to be going running for any long period of time you need to look where you are going.
So she kind of got in the habit of looking around at her environment (like most dogs do) and not keeping each eyeball on me as her soul purpose.
So I Have a New Boy
Well, he isn’t so NEW… I have had him for several months now, actually.
But I am terrified to train him.
Because I am afraid I am going to do something to screw him up.
He was given to me by a friend. A very good friend who is a working dog breeder and who has bred numerous dogs that have been successfully titled in protection sports and have also gone on to be police and military dogs.
- I’m afraid I will condition him wrong.
- Or he won’t be tough enough to compete in bite work sports.
- Or his grip won’t be strong enough.
- Or something will scare him.
- Or his eye contact won’t be perfect enough….
- Well, let’s just say the list could go on and on and on…
So I haven’t done a lot with him.
Don’t get me wrong, he knows manners and knows where his spot is and he chews his bones and plays with his toys but I haven’t gotten down to teaching him a lot of skills for a life of competition.
I am so afraid I am going to disappoint my buddy.
Recently Another Friend of Mine Said
Recently another good friend of mine said to me, you screw them up and then you fix them… that is how you train!
You train by making mistakes and learning from them and fixing them.
Then you make new mistakes, realize it, and fix them.
That, My Friends, is the Cycle of Training
That, my friends is the cycle of training; we make mistakes, we fix them, then we make more mistakes and end up fixing them.
No one is perfect!
As a matter of fact I was reading a blog just the other day from a world renowned trainer who has written many books and she too was confessing to making a mistake with her “now” competition dog and mentioning having to go back and fix it.
What Would Be Worse?
What’s worse (I realize now) is not training because you are afraid of making a mistake.
It would be like not driving because you are afraid of a car crash or getting on a plane because you are afraid of a plane crash.
Really as long as you aren’t using compulsion and bad training habits like beating or kicking or yelling there really isn’t much of a way you can ruin your dog permanently.
So grab your leash and get out there and train.
Use your patience and make sure you build a firm foundation in your training.
There is very little that can’t be fixed when you are using positive reinforcement training.
When you see a bad habit crop up, ask yourself…. Why is that happening and how can I fix it! And, in no time you will be a much better trainer and owner!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.