A good dog trainer loves humans as much as she loves dogs, because she knows that it was the human who called and scheduled a private consult or signed up for a class for Fido. We train humans to learn to train their dogs.
I love dog people, and many of my clients over the years have become dear friends. Having said that, there are times dog trainers say wha-wha-what? We love you because you are the best of the best of dog owners (since you want to train your dog), but sometimes … well, we just have to scratch our heads at your unique, creative solutions to canine problems. Sometimes we are even shocked (and it is hard to shock us) at what you take as gospel about your four-legged friends.
Here are some of the craziest things dog trainers around the country have heard come out of their clients’ mouths — and I say them from a place of utmost respect and understanding for your canine foibles.
1. “The ghost in the bedroom is causing my dog’s aggression.”
So, maybe the dog trainer wasn’t the right call; shoulda called in Ghostbusters.
2. “My dog humps other dogs so I turn right around and hump my dog to embarrass the dog.”
I see. And if your dog sniffs other dogs’ butts?
3. “Our little dogs bite at our ankles while we are trying to eat dinner each evening, so we put the dogs on the dinner table.”
Well, you have to admit that this procedure stopped the ankle biting, but I hope they like the taste of dog hair in their dinner.
4. “My dog barks aggressively at motorcycles, but I want him to happily bark at motorcycles.”
5. “My dog eats the drywall of my home while I am work, but I don’t want to stop that from happening because it means she loves me.”
I hope this owner still has a house, with walls and everything. Separation anxiety can be reduced in so many new ways that it isn’t necessary to let an anxious dog devour your house.
6. “If you feed them venison, they will start chasing deer.”
Not true. If it were, then we could never feed any dog any kind of dog food other than the vegetarian kind — although then they might start chasing potatoes.
7. “If a dog doesn’t have blue eyes, he won’t herd.”
Shhh. Don’t tell the champion amber-eyed herding dogs who clean up at international competitions.
8. “If a dog has blue eyes, she won’t herd.”
9. “There is no way my female dog would get out and mate with loose dogs. I raised her better than that.”
So, did you have a chat with her about the birds and the bees? And she understood your every word and also subscribes to your beliefs? Really.
10. “Feeding raw bones will make dogs aggressive.”
See the above about vegetarian dog food.
11. “My sibling puppies won’t grow up and mate with one another –- they know better than to behave like that!”
I wonder if person will still feel this way 11 inbred puppies later. And I hope this owner’s dog doesn’t get with the one above to talk about their love of canine abstinence, because if they do, more puppies will be on the way.
12. “My dog tries to dominate me, so I eat his food from his bowl first so he will know that I am the boss.”
Um … ick. Dominance theory is old news and has been thoroughly disproved. But did you like the dog food? Was it kibble or canned?
13. “I bit my dog’s ear to let him know I was disgusted with his behavior.”
The dog understandably now sees you as an insane human who wants to eat his ears. Also, now he shies away anytime anyone comes near his sensitive ears. Ears are for hearing, not for human consumption.
14. “My dog growled at my sister so I made my sister move out of the house.”
So, did you train your dog to growl at her? Does your mother know that you don’t like your sister?
15. “My dog hates the vacuum cleaner so I just quit vacuuming.”
Better quit cleaning the toilet bowl, because everybody knows that’s a dog’s favorite watering hole. Get that thing real tasty.
16. Owner to trainer: “My white fluffy dog keeps locking his teeth onto my toddler’s pants legs.”
Trainer: “What do you do when this happens?” Owner: “I give the dog a cookie.”
And it goes on from there. One owner called a trainer to see if she could stop her Poodle from humping couch pillows, because “it goes against my Christian values.” Are dogs Christians? And if they are, where does it say in the Bible that Poodles should not be humping pillows? No, I am asking for real. Does it say that somewhere?
And one we especially wish to see go away is this: “My dog ate a chicken, so I beat the dog with the dead chicken to teach not to eat the chickens.” This is wrong on so many levels. Please don’t beat your dog with anything, even a dead chicken. The dog will learn only that you are unpredictable, scary and crazy. Instead, keep dogs and chickens separated.
So you see, dear dog owner, sometimes your information about dogs and how they learn is a bit outdated or is based on something other than fact. If you have found yourself saying or doing any of the things highlighted in this article, I urge you to call a force-free, nationally certified dog trainer today! We won’t laugh (we promise) but we can help you understand Fido better.
Do you or someone you know hold on to odd beliefs about dogs? Let’s have a laugh about it in the comments!
Read more by Annie Phenix:
- This Psychologist’s Border Collie Can Put Away Her Toys by Name — All 1,022 of Them
- Dogster Interviews: We Chat with Dog Trainer Pat Miller
- Working with Shelters Taught Me Everything About Dog Training
- Is Cropping Dogs’ Ears and Docking Their Tails Cruel? We Ask the Experts
- 8 Ways That I’m an Admittedly “Soft” Dog Trainer
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
- 6 Ways to Thwart an Off-Leash Dog Rushing You and Your Dog
- On Dogs and Body Language: How I Learned to “Speak” Dog
- Aspirin and Ibuprofen: Are Human Pain Meds Safe for Dogs?
About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She and her husband take their four highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Phenix generally leaves her six donkeys at home on the ranch . . .but she is thinking about clicker training those little hairy hee hawers as well. Learn more from her website.