I’ve decided to start documenting the issues that I have faced with my own dogs over the years and some of the issues that I still face today, because funnily enough my dogs aren’t perfect!! (Shock! Horror!)
Dogs are living beings with their own thoughts and emotions, they have their own souls and are on their own journey. They can’t be controlled every second of every day and personally I don’t believe they should be, I believe that our dogs need patience and understanding and if we give them that then they will give us so much more in return.
When I first started training my own dogs back in 2008 the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to change their personalities. I wanted them to behave and have manners but still wanted them to be cheeky and fun, I didn’t want a robotic dog that was too terrified to step out of line!! I liked their quirky little ways and I liked the fact that they pushed me and tested me.
Now I realise that they weren’t testing me, they were teaching me. Each of my dogs have bought challenges with them that means I have had to look at things differently or learn something new in order to help them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today, I wouldn’t have done all of the different courses and workshops. They continue to teach me things and throw challenges my way every day that pushes me to keep trying new things and adding new skills to my resources when helping all the dogs I work with.
I completed three courses last year leading to two extra skills and hopefully have at least another two courses lined up for 2021 and all because of the things my dogs have thrown at me in the last twelve months.
For years I have been embarrassed by these canine lessons and have felt like a complete failure and a fraud on many occasions. I can’t even count the times that I have sat on my kitchen floor sobbing and telling myself that I’m a terrible dog trainer and shouldn’t be allowed near other people’s dogs because I can’t even get my own dogs to behave perfectly.
When I started my own training business 10 years ago I just did the odd 1-2-1 outside of my day job. I had magnetic signs on my van and I used to take them off and hide them if I was out with my own dogs because they weren’t the perfect advert. It didn’t matter to me that I might have only had the dog for a couple of weeks or that they were still in the learning process themselves, I just thought people would look at them and think ‘we’re not hiring her, she’s shit!’
Thankfully my perception has changed over the last couple of years. I know I’m bloody good at what I do, I see it every day with dogs that I work with but also with my own.
Mine can’t be perfect because I’ll never know everything there is to know. There’ll always be something else to learn and another opportunity to grow and if they were perfect I’d have no reason to continue to look for new or additional methods. Their behaviour issues have made me a better Canine Therapist and I love them for that every day.