Teaching (aka Training) Your Pet Fairly

I have always been a “trainer”. I have trained horses and dogs since I was a kid. I enjoyed training and I realized the importance of a well-trained animal. A well-trained animal is a safer member of society (for itself and others).

Training always came easy for me since I could communicate with animals before I even knew the depths of my ability to communicate with them. I trained quietly, easily, and effectively. However, I did see nuisance behaviors as problems. I was just lucky I was able to correct these behaviors easily and effectively because I was unknowingly communicating with the animals at a deeper level.

I’ve changed since I realized how to truly communicate with animals. And as a result, my pets are happier, and better behaved (by societal standards). My dogs still learn the traditional “tricks” such as sit, stay, wait, down, etc. This keeps them safe when I need to be able to maintain control of where they are for the safety of themselves and/or others. They also know some fun tricks, such as crawl, simply for entertainment. It’s fun for both of us! I only taught crawl to one dog because it came naturally to him and he enjoyed it. I did not expect it of the others who did not show me they wanted to learn this “trick”.

So how have I changed? Nothing is forced. Not every pet I have will have the same level of training or learn the same skills. I have learned through accepting animals for who they are. I don’t use training as dominance control. I use it as communication to create a team. It is used to give my animals a job.

Also, I have learned the best form of training is prevention, not correction. If your pet has a behavior you do not like take steps to prevent them from doing the behavior instead of correcting them after they engage in the behavior. This works SO much better. Especially when you don’t realize your animal engaged in the behavior until later (minutes or hours).

Animals live in the moment. If you do not catch your pet engaging in the nuisance behavior until later (5 minutes, two hours, or anytime after). It is too late. Animals do not know what they did wrong, even if you show them. My heart hurts so much when I see humans trying to train pets this way. it just frustrates pets, confuses them, and makes them afraid. They know they disappointed you and they don’t know why.

Example of prevention: If you know your pet will rip up cushions or pillows, remove them from your pet’s reach before you leave. If you know your pet will get into the trash, remove it before you leave. If you know your pet will pee or poop in the house, put them in a crate. Yes, you will have to change your life a bit but they are worth it. And eventually, they will not try to rip up trash, pillows, etc. anymore!

Animals create nuisance behaviors out of boredom. They need to feel purposeful. Some animals need more of a job than others. Some want to lead an active lifestyle and some a more laid-back lifestyle. Some are strong-willed and some are submissive noodles from the day they are born.

TRAINING SHOULD NOT CHANGE AN ANIMAL. Training should strengthen weaknesses and focus on strengths. But it should not change an animal. You will not make a submissive animal as confident as an animal born with confidence. Some animals are smarter than others. And frankly, some animals are born with an “I don’t give a s&%* attitude”. You won’t and shouldn’t change these animals. Some animals are naturally outgoing and some are naturally introverted.

Instead, focus on using training to build communication around the animal’s natural traits. Help your animal grow, not change. Trying to make your animal into something it is not will only create frustration for you and your pet. And when pets are frustrated, guess what they do? Everything we don’t want them to do. They act out in ways we label as nuisance behaviors. Accept your animal for who he or she is and I promise your animal become the best version of itself.

I have made many mistakes. Even though I was a kind, soft, and effective “trainer”, I look back on some of the horses I trained and worked with and I know I could’ve done better. A lot better. But I changed. I realize now when horses are bucking, rearing, etc. They have a REASON. Sometimes it’s just that they are really sensitive and humans aren’t as a generalization as sensitive as animals. When they spook they are truly scared. Disciplining them in this moment isn’t helpful or fair. However, building communication and trust creates a relationship that makes these behaviors disappear on their own.

I changed. I got better. I learned to whisper more. No yelling. No “big” energy. I learned what works for teaching one animal will not work for all of them. I learned to find different ways so I can speak in a way the animal understands. Not expect the animals to have to learn my one and only way of doing something. I learned to see things through the animal’s eyes. The way the animal perceives my communication may be very different than the way I perceive it. And the same for any situation. I build trust. Use positive rewards. I allow my animals to show me all their emotions.

I accept some animals are scaredy cats. My best option is to slowly build trust with them. I accept some animals are high-energy, so my best option is to keep them tired with plenty of exercise. I accept some animals are going to do everything I want, the moment I ask, I appreciate these animals. I accept some will give me a serious run for my money and cause me to be creative, and kind and think “outside of the box”. These will take more time, patience, and effort but they are teaching me and I am thankful for that.

I accept every animal is different, just as every human on this earth is different. So I do not compare one to the other. I do not expect the same from all of them. I meet them where they are and I give them what they need from me. Read that again Let it digest.
I never try to change them or make them something they are not. I never put them in uncomfortable situations even if I know it is safe. I never break their spirit. Ever.

As their guardian on this planet, my responsibility is to protect them, love them, care for them, and provide them with a safe space during their time on this earth. Training can be used to help them, communicate with them, and happily co-exist in a home with your pet. But as soon as you try to make your pet someone he or she is not through training, or as soon as the communication is not clear or consistent with training, nuisance behaviors pop up.

Sometimes we have to acknowledge our way of “training” isn’t working and we need to get help, find different help, or find another way to “train”. This will lead to happier, healthier pets.

Follow by Email