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We Are Not Magicians

Charlotte Garner
After years of dealing with their dog’s problem behaviours, guardians will often reach the end of their tethers. By this point, they have little patience remaining and believe that nothing else can be done to help. They are desperate for a quick fix that will make their dog easier for them to live with, so they call in a professional for help.

It is often the case that guardians don’t seek professional help for their dogs until their behaviour is completely overwhelming for them. However, this makes the work required to help them much more intensive. This puts pressure on the guardians themselves, as well as the trainer or behaviourist who are trying to support them.

However, if a dog has been practicing a certain behaviour for several years, it is simply an impossible ask for even the most experienced professional trainer or behaviourist to solve it in just one session. The dog has been positively reinforced for showing this behaviour for months or even years, so unless they are given an alternative, and then encouraged to use it, they will naturally revert to what they already know.

Whilst some dogs naturally learn and remember new things faster than others, it is thought that on average it takes 21-28 days for your dog to fully understand a new behaviour. This length of time is likely to increase when you are trying to overcome a behaviour that the dog has been allowed to practice for long time.

Guardians need to devote their time, patience, commitment, and consistency fully to their dog to help them overcome any issues they are facing. Whilst a trainer or behaviourist can give them the tools and support to be able to do this effectively, it is ultimately down to the guardian. They must work as a team with their dog to get the best results and not rely solely on the help of professionals to fix things. It is vital to remember, we are not magicians. We do not have a magic wand that can simply erase any problems a dog and their guardian may be experiencing.

Providing a guardian with professional training advice is similar to providing them with the materials and the tools required to rebuild a fallen wall, as well as the method of how to do so effectively. If the guardian only tries to fix the wall once a week for a few weeks only during your training sessions, then progress will be extremely slow. Yet, if they commit to working on this every day, then brick by brick, the wall gets built. It is stronger, taller and sturdier with every day that passes. This is exactly the same with dog training and behavioural advice. If the guardian commits themselves fully and practices your advice as consistently and as often as they can, their progress will be much greater than if they expect things to be fixed after a single session. The same is true with puppy classes, though they are required to build solid foundations, not rebuild a fallen wall.

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