Dog training is such a good idea, isn’t it! Just get the canine family member all trained up and – like magic – our very human problems and issues will disappear. If only it were so easy. There is definitely a time and a place for training. But sometimes, that means the dog isn’t the one who needs to be trained! Animal communicator Shannon Cutts talks through some other options pet parents can try when dog training isn’t producing the hoped-for results.
Leash aggressive dogs. Fearful dogs. Barking dogs. Wriggling, squirming dogs. Dogs who develop temporary “name amnesia” when they are called. Dogs who’ve never met a stranger. Dogs who think everyone’s a stranger.
I’ve worked with them all.
Perhaps more importantly for our purposes here, I’ve also worked with their people.
Sometimes, we discover the underlying issue really is a matter for the dog trainer. And sometimes we discover the issue can be cleared up with conversation.
Here are some examples of different issues I have only discovered once we asked the dog to join the conversation about their dog training experiences.
- The dog doesn’t understand the commands being given.
- The dog is confused because their human isn’t using the commands clearly or consistently.
- The dog is listening to their person’s conflicting emotions and mental pictures and rather than the verbal commands.
- The dog is dealing with some underlying trauma or PTSD that makes it impossible for them to obey the commands.
- The dog is physically sick or injured and obeying the commands would cause them pain.
- The dog is going deaf or blind and is not able to easily make out the commands being given!
- The dog perceives a risk to themselves or their human and that risk makes disobeying the commands a smarter choice.
- The dog doesn’t want to do what the human is asking them to do (we can ask, but the animal always reserves the right to say “no”).
All of these reasons make pretty good sense, right? After all, if we kind of forget about species differences for a moment, haven’t there been times in our own lives when somebody wanted us to do something and we had very good reasons for not doing that thing?
Even worse, imagine how frustrated you would feel if someone kept insisting over and over again that you behave one way when it was safer, smarter, kinder or just altogether more feasible for you to behave another way instead.
Literally the only thing that was missing in each of these situations was the dog’s ability to express their very good reasons for what seemed like outright “disobedience” to their humans.
Animal communication allowed all interested parties – dog, dog’s person, dog’s extended family, dog trainer – to have a seat at the conversational table. I find myself returning to this truth daily – conversation is like a magic eraser easing away frustration, self-doubt, anger, fear, all the rest.
When we know better, we can do better. When we understand another being’s point of view, we can alter our worldview in a more evolved and empathic direction.
But does this mean animal communication always swiftly resolves the so-called disobedience?
Not on your life.
As you can probably infer from the list above, often there are additional barriers that stand in the way of a dog’s ability to seamlessly execute the desired commands. Sometimes the barriers are such that there is carte blanche refusal – the dog cannot or will not obey, period, the end.
Sometimes the dog obeys quite well when the dog trainer is the one doing the commanding, but not so well when it is their own person who is putting them through their training paces.
And sometimes, the dog obeys 80 percent of the time, or 90 percent of the commands, but there are a few sticking points that may shift and change in the presence or absence of any number of variables.
But ultimately, the only way to learn any of this, and certainly the only way to resolve otherwise immovable objects like “disobedient” canines, is to have a conversation about it.
Bring everyone together to the table. Talk it out. Listen with open, humble and interested ears. Get curious. Get creative. If all the ways that have been tried have not produced satisfactory results, find a new way.
And try that.
Are you experiencing new or ongoing issues with your dog training efforts? I can help.