I am too lazy to train dogs some days. It’s just that I am not in the mood to work with a troubled dog that is going to make the process unpleasant. There’s an emotional toll to engaging with difficult dogs. The work can get tedious and highly repetitive. Repetitive labor can contribute to a slowing down of productivity and lead to bouts of boredom.
That’s not the case with me.
Boredom can be a subjective experience and there’s no reason for me to feel as such performing a job that I enjoy as much as I do training dogs. At other times, I fall into a lethargic spell and have trouble getting my ass off the couch. This only happens late in the day.
Though I experience an occasional lack of motivation my incentives to continue the work is clear and that feeds my drive for carrying forward.
Many dog owners are lazy owners
It’s the ongoing joke in the industry that most dog owners signing up for a six week training class stop going after the third and fourth class. I experience this in the classes I teach. Interest declines and people slack off. Since not all learning is sexy and fun, many lose interest once they realize that they’ll need to put in work for the results. Or when it dawns on them that their dog isn’t going to magically transform into Lassie.
When they quit it’s because they settle for good enough. Often what they think they’ve achieved doesn’t amount to an achievement at all.
We humans are good at deluding ourselves. Especially if it helps the procrastination efforts.
The best way to teach is to set standards of acceptable conduct and hold the dog accountable to them. It’s a simple concept. There’s no magic to establishing order in your household or within society. These are the rules and here are the consequences if you should break those rules, got it?
This is advice and insight that no one else will give you. Likely because they don’t see it as their place to tell you how to live with your dog. Or because they don’t want to be the one to shatter your illusions. Advice isn’t always pretty, but good advice shouldn’t be. It should be direct, blunt, and ruthless.
You don’t need to have all the answers to start
There’s a direct correlation between the work you put into something and the results you get from it. I heard this message long before I read Napoleon Hill or any of the countless lame motivational clones out there. Not that I think Napoleon Hill was lame. My dad did a good job at drilling his work manifesto into my head.
“Macho, tienes que trabajar fuerte si quieres algo en la vida”, Dad would say.
Too many of us get hung up on not being able to know the exact way of doing something. We use this as an excuse shield to ward off those that wonder why we’re not taking action. Procrastinators and excuse makers believe that in order to start they need to be well informed and fully prepared for the job ahead.
The best starting point can come from a place of ignorance. “I’ll wait until I have my shit together”-itis is a recipe for procrastination. Find the work ahead daunting and you’re more inclined to put it off.
If you’re not bright or gifted, there’s still hope for you
When younger, I rebelled against my father and his ways in every conceivable manner. His attempts at imparting wisdom sounded like nothing more than noise. His words resonated as much as if they were spoken by Nixon. For me, it was all bullshit.
“Life is going to be simple”, I thought. It wouldn’t involve long hours toiling away in a factory. That was the route my father took. He had worked his way up through the garment industry of New York City and made good money back in the 70’s for a man with little grasp of the english language. As an immigrant he had little options. But it wasn’t going to be my path. Where he failed, I would succeed.
Never mind that I lacked the charm and confidence that oozed from my father. Those things didn’t carry much weight with me. I determined that my brain was the key to success and the means to whether a person made money or not, and I surely had more brains than my father. Someone somewhere was to recognize my intellect. Ergo, I was to be swimming in money decades into my future.
It was a sure thing.
Except It didn’t work out that way.
I miscalculated. Life managed to break through the thickness of my head in a way dad couldn’t. Hard work ruled the day, followed by charm and confidence. Brains weren’t even in the running. In the real world hard work will almost always outdo brains and talent. Dad was right.
Start the work and figure it out as you go along. Dog owners would be wise to follow this advice.
Dogs learn faster than humans
It can generally take us humans decades of getting our asses handed to us before we glean any fruitful life lessons from bad experiences. Dogs learn their lessons fast. Rattle the food bag and it means dinner. Rub their noses in their own poop and it means you and poop don’t get along well so the dispensing of the poop will happen elsewhere, away from your poop discriminating eyes.
Dogs see a direct line between action and consequence, and they’re capable of making immediate associations. Humans aren’t always so swift.
If you’re frustrated that your dog isn’t learning fast enough then chances are you’re failing somewhere along the line. It’s not your dog’s fault. It’s rarely your dog’s fault. Smart dog owners understand this.
Being too busy to work with your dog is a BS excuse.
Here’s some practical advice. If you’re too busy with life to teach your dog basic manners then you shouldn’t have children, because it’s the same principle and kids require regular consistent engagement and it only gets harder. If you already have children and a dog that you’re struggling to teach the simplest of skills then ignore this advice because chances are you’re already in over your head.
Get some outside help quick.
Don’t convince yourself that you can manage the situation while dealing with screaming kids and an out-of-control dog. You can’t, and you won’t. If your life fits this description, get help. There’s no shame in that. But if you feel that you’re a force to be reckoned with because you have your shit together but still can’t find the time to work with your dog, you’re lying to yourself.
There’s always time for the important things.
When it comes to caring for and raising a dog, men and women aren’t equal.
Women see the larger picture. When troubles arise they generally take proactive measures. Women are also far better at identifying problems. Men whitewash the issue. Men make it about ego..
“I’m a man so I have better control of the animal then the woman”.
Men are more likely to ignore and turn a blind eye to a growing threat. They gaslight the woman by attempting to convince her the problem is all in her head. Men are less inclined to seek help when everyone around can see they need it. I’ve known grown man that are so deep in denial about their dogs troubles (troubles which they often help create) that it’s more painful to admit to needing help then it is to keeping the family safe. Men can take pride in identifying themselves as “dog owners”, while women identify more as dog parents.
You never wanted a dog, you wanted an image.
Bring anything that lives and breathes into your life and expect to care for it. Expect that it will be dependent on you at first, if not forever. Expect to feed, nurture, teach, even mentor it through life. All this spells commitment from you.
But it’s probable that it’s more than you bargained for because you were never interested in giving commitment in the first place.
You were interested in the image of a happy, affable, social, goofy dog everyone would love. That’s because the dog makes you look good. Or you wanted a social status upgrade. A chick or hunk magnet. A way of leveraging attention. A house fixture. A semblance of normalcy to your somewhat chaotic or boring existence. But you never wanted a dog.
You know what you need to do, you just won’t do it.
If it’s true that some dog owners won’t make training efforts until they have all their ducks in a row, others lie to themselves about those ducks ever existing. At some level we know that all the pieces are there but we won’t take any action to put them together.
Be it laziness, uncaring, low standards, or any one of the countless lies we tell each other there’s always a reason we don’t act when we know we should. The biggest lies we’re exposed to are the ones we tell ourselves.