The Harsh Reality of Fixing Complex Behavioural Issues In Dogs

We’re bombarded with enquiries every day with really ambiguous messages like ‘how much for barking training?’, ‘will it definitely work?’, ‘have you got any tips?’, ‘can’t you just give me advice?’.

The reality is questions like those are really low resolution thinking and are themselves a large part of why people are having so many behavioural problems with their dogs in the first place. Without providing us with at least basic information like the breed of the dog, areas of issues, and what training they’ve had, asking us such generic questions are like asking a personal trainer how much it costs to be as shredded as Tom Hardy.

In most cases dogs are reactive because of a multitude of reasons which need to be assessed and addressed to make real meaningful long term change for owners. Just some of the contributing factors range from being under/over socialised, negative experiences, genetic predispositions, lack of fundamental training, poor handling from owners, owners not being able to read the dogs body language, no structure or boundaries in the home, medical abnormalities, chronic stress, poor rest and recovery, and lack of physical and mental stimulation.

To fix the issues you’re having we need to form a picture of the dogs life and make all the necessary improvements that help them out. Additionally to helping the dog, we also need to be able to contextualise everything to the owner at a rate they can handle the information and understand it well enough to successfully implement it day-to-day with their dogs. Like dogs, owners develop their own behavioural habits that negatively impact their dogs behaviour, and in many cases this is harder to fix than any of the dogs issues.

So, how much does reactivity training cost?

Depending on which trainer you decide to go with it can range from anything from £50-£200/ph. Like most things in life, the better something is the more expensive it can be. However, sometimes you’ll find something that is way more expensive than it’s worth so always do your research beforehand.

Having a 1-hour session with a trainer/behaviourist once will do absolutely NOTHING for your dogs progress, much-like going to the gym once will do nothing for your physique. It requires some commitment and dedication on your part to chip away at it, be consistent, dedicate time to work on it, work with a trainer to learn and grow as a handler, and most importantly learn to enjoy training your dog.

There is a big difference between a dog owner and a dog person, and in order to fix complex behavioural issues you need to learn to become a dog person. If you think having a trainer come to your home once will just fix issues you’re having you’ll never see any improvement. You have to learn what you need to do and commit yourself to helping your dog overcome whatever they’re going through.

As trainers we frequently put ourselves and our own dogs in the firing line to be bitten or attacked while trying to help clients and their dogs with their issues, yet there seems to be this notion by some that we should work for less than we deserve and provide results that actually need to be achieved by the owners. We’re here to help you the whole journey, but you must put the work in yourself.

If you’re having issues with your dog and want them addressed then find an experienced trainer you want to work with, let them know what’s going on, find out how much they charge or what offers they may have available, and if you can’t afford it, either find another trainer who is more affordable for you, or save up to work with the one you want, let’s face it we’ve all invested in things we didn’t really need or even want, so why is investing in your dogs wellbeing not a priority?

Having an obedient, confident, socialised, well-mannered and balanced dog, takes time, commitment and understanding. It isn’t something that will just happen naturally, no matter how much you wish it would or how much you love the dog. We’re seeing an epidemic at the moment of out of control dogs attacking or harassing others, reactivity everywhere you go, physiologically broken dogs from spending their walks crawling across the pavement dragging their owners behind, and a rise in dogs attacking and killing livestock. It’s absolutely appalling how low the standards and expectations of dogs has become.

Dog training shouldn’t begin once everything has gone wrong, it should be on the forefront of your mind before you even bring a dog into your home. The help your dog needs isn’t going to be cheap, convenient, on your doorstep, at a time or date that suits you, or as quick as you’d like. Anything worth doing or having in life comes with an amount of discomfort, inconvenience, or hardship.

Invest into your dogs training and reap the rewards of seeing your dog cope when it previously couldn’t, be able to take them to more places without having to stress over how they’ll behave, and overcome issues you thought were set in stone.

Whether it’s working with a puppy who is a blank canvas, biting you every 30 seconds, and has the attention span of a goldfish. Or, adolescent dog who’s hormones are all over the place and has began to push the boundaries of what they can get away with. It’s understandable to get yourself stressed out and question why on earth they’re being a nuisance and causing you trouble.

It’s so important to remember that most undesirable behaviour in dogs is self-rewarding. Reacting at another dog to create space, growling over a bone to prevent it from being taken, not recalling from playing with another dog, pulling on the leash to get to the park faster. All self-rewarding behaviours and ways for the opportunistic canine to improve their situations.

Before you get yourself stressed out and pissed off at how your dogs behaving, you need to ask yourself a very important question… Have you actually TAUGHT them what you want them to do and what not to do? Or are you just EXPECTING them to figure it out?

By reinforcing great decisions you love, and correcting bad decisions you don’t love, you can help your dog to steer and navigate through difficult scenarios and environments and really guide them towards being the version of themselves you want to see. They aren’t going to do it alone, they need you all the way.

Stop getting mad at your dog for not doing what you haven’t even taught them! You need to establish some fundamental skills that they can understand and use when they need them, before asking them to make complex high resolution decisions.

Without a solid foundation you’ll have trouble creating anything of real value, so don’t try to run before you can walk and ask things of your dog that you yourself don’t even have the solutions to.
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