Much like we expect teachers’ kids to be well behaved, trainers deal with the expectation that their dogs are perfect examples of the skills they teach. But hey, dog trainers are human, too. Just like you, we don’t always do everything perfectly. I asked some of my fellow dog trainers from around the country for their best training fails, and they didn’t disappoint.
“The other day, when I was at a TTouch seminar with Jasper, I was in the car with him and some other participant was talking to me for a bit. I was explaining to her how he helps with training reactive dogs because he doesn’t react back, etc. At that moment, someone rode by on a horse, and he started barking. LOL.”
“Where would you like me to start? My dog peed on a puppy once, as I was talking to the puppy’s owners about the benefits of dog training. I asked my dog to sneeze, and he farted — at the store. Sometimes he rubs his butt against people. He peed on an evaluator during this CGC (Canine Good Citizen) evaluation. I was telling someone how good he is at recalling, and I didn’t notice the collar slipped and he started trotting away; it took a while to get him to recall.”
“I had to get stitches and crutches for my first and only serious dog bite — from my 9-year-old Pug, Peanut.”
“Our rescued dog, when we first got her — a completely untrained year-and-half-old Siberian Husky — would steal food off counters, get in the trash, eat the ‘litter cookies’ from the cats, eat socks, chew off and eat the crotch out of underwear, guard food from our other dog and cats, and pull so incredibly hard on leash — and if I stopped she’d stand on her back legs to try to continue pulling. She completely ignored us no matter what we said or what noises we made to get her attention, and scariest of all, she was a bolter.
“The day after adopting her, we opened the door for the mailman, and she slipped out and ran down the street. A few days later, she jumped through a window screen. I’ve seen her climb a chain-link fence like a ladder. I’ve seen her jump a 4-foot x-pen from a standstill. She dug out of our outdoor kennel run that has a 1-foot dig guard flat on the ground around the border. Most of her unwanted and dangerous behaviors have been resolved, but she will always be a dog who needs close supervision and a lot of management to prevent her from regressing.”
“A few years ago, I was hiking with my dogs. The trailhead was an hour from town, and we were one and a half hours in. My dog, Banjo, went into the shepherd’s tent and stole his bacon. We left $20 in the tent as an ‘I’m sorry.’ But the shepherd was nowhere near a store where he could replace the bacon.”
“My dog was once at my mom’s house — she was dog sitting — and ran away at some point (she can open any door that is not dead bolted, no matter the handle). My mom gets a phone call, ‘We have your dog.’ My mom asked, ‘Where did you find her?’ The person said, ‘I was taking a shower, and when I got out there she was!’ She ran away from one house and broke in to another house!”
“I’ve got a fun one. I took my 14-year-old German Shepherd X to the chiropractor. He was all sore but starting to feel better from the adjustment. I pulled into the driveway, opened the door, and was helping him out down the ramp when he saw the neighborhood kitty at the end of the block and took off after him — around the corner, into the bushes, and up a tree. As I was running behind him, the neighbors pointed in the direction he ran in and said, ‘He went that way!’ I smiled and nodded. They knew that I owned a training center.”
“I was walking my 4-year-old German Shepherd Versailles when I accidentally dropped the leash. We do plenty of off-leash heeling, and typically if I drop it she stays right with me. Well, I dropped it next to a flock of geese at her FAVORITE park (there’s a lake there), so naturally she takes off bounding after them. Once she was done, she decided to do laps, saying hello to everybody at the park. There were people there with their small children, mortified, thinking this big, doofy black dog is going to bite them. Finally, someone at the park grabbed her collar, and I was able to snatch her back up. I did NOT hand out any business cards.”
Got any training fails of your own? Tell us in the comments!
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About the author: Abbie Mood lives in Colorado with her dogs Daisy, Sadie, and Buster, and can usually be found outside with one of them. She is a freelance writer who loves to explore environmental and animal rights issues, food culture, and the human experience through her writing. You can find out more about her atabbiemood.com or her blog, lifediscoveryproject.com. Follow Abbie on Twitter @abbiemood or Instagram @abbiemood.