Why it's more than training...
Your dog is your best friend, or something even more. She is an incredible soul, an amazing being, who is ever-loving, ever-faithful, and ever-loyal. Your dog can make you smile even when your heart is breaking. He can enhance your enjoyment of your most fun adventures and your most peaceful moments.
Or that’s how it should be, anyway.
There are a lot of opinions out there in the dog training world. Dogs are the mirrors that reflect us at our highest and most noble, and also at our most cruel or petty. The way we’re taught to understand our relationships with them is just one example of this. So often dog training and all the conversations around it bring us to our lowest selves, or at the least, wake up a side of us we’re not comfortable with.
Have you been taught that you need to “be the alpha” and “dominate” your dog, show your dog that you are the “pack leader”? Do you deprive yourself of the joy of cuddling with your dog on the couch or welcoming their warmth by your side in your bed because you don’t want them to think they are in charge? Do you feel guilty for locking your dog in a prison or insisting that your best friend always allow you to go through the door before them? Do you refuse to accept affectionate kisses or certain types of physical contact -- not because you don’t like it, but because you’ve been told it’s wrong to receive it?
Or maybe you’ve used very positive methods, but are still missing something that takes you deeper. Or you just aren’t having fun “training” your dog.
In no other relationship in our lives do we have such strange, rigid expectations and rituals. But here’s the truth: those feelings of discomfort, of guilt, of distaste, or even of boredom -- those feelings are your wiser self talking to you, giving you a message you need to hear.
Our relationships with our dogs should make us feel lots of things. Guilt, shame, and discomfort are not among them.
I am not your average dog trainer. Technically, I am a Certified Canine Behaviorist and a Certified Dog Trainer, but those terms don't reflect what a lifetime with dogs means to me. Creating the kind of relationship I crave with my dogs goes deeper than “training” -- at least for me.
What I have spent my lifetime trying to learn -- and what I teach my clients -- is not a series of exercises or techniques that can be practiced in a few minutes a day to accomplish a specific goal.
What I am offering is a different perspective: a way to understand your dog, communicate by really learning to listen to what they are saying to you, and use this knowledge to build a relationship.
Training your dog is great. But your dog is learning from every single interaction you have with him, not just in those minutes you spend “training.” In every interaction you have with your dog, you are building or destroying your relationship. You are moving towards harmony (and good behavior) or towards conflict and misunderstanding. Standing still is impossible. Which way are you moving right now?
I can help you build a deep, soulful connection with your best friend that exceeds routine and approaches magic.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to learn more and dig deeper. This is not a quick-fix approach. It will require you to look closely at yourself and at how you live with your dog. But if you’re on board for that kind of transformation, I’d love to join in your journey and help to guide you towards a new horizon.
My relationships with my dogs have not been without challenges. I’ve failed my own dogs many times. Each time, it’s driven me to stop, rethink my approach, and dig deeper.
What this means is that each time I have encountered a twist or a turn in the road, I have learned from it. And it also means that I understand what it is to love a dog tremendously and still struggle to provide what that dog needs.
If this is where you’re at, take hope. Building relationships is a journey, and few journeys are complete without some turbulence along the way. But turbulence can be survived, and challenges can be overcome.
If you're ready to take action and make a change, you can do it.
I'm not against dog training; I'm simply suggesting a different approach. Many, many trainers from many schools of thought are excellent, skilled individuals with the best interests of their dogs and their clients at heart. Some of them are great friends of mine, have been my mentors and have taught me a lot, and claim my undying respect. My approach is often different, but it doesn’t diminish theirs.