Careful what you wish for

Careful what you wish for

So today I saw a FB post, I see them all the time, they are really hard to scroll past because they are nearly always followed by tonnes of comments from people that are struggling with their dogs and loose leash walking, comments such as:

  • Fantastic, where about are you based?
  • Wow, I wish I could get my dog to do this!
  • How much do you charge?
  • I’ve dropped you a message
  • How can I book a session with you?

and much more…

Yet I see the post and my heart sinks


Because if you know about dogs you only have to see the body language of the dog to see just how unhappy it is, you can tell that it’s been ‘trained’ into walking beside its owners using aversive/punishment-based techniques. It’s shrinking its body, tucking its tail, maybe even hunched a bit, the head is low and it will have a worried look as it keeps its head low and flicks sideways glances at it’s the owner as it waits for the next ‘correction’. 

It is just the saddest thing to see and it’s made even sadder by the fact the owner has no clue what it’s doing to its dog psychologically……I know because with my first dog I was one of them and it is something I will regret to the day I die!

‘Dog trainer’ isn’t a protected title and anyone can become one, they don’t have to have an understanding of dogs or take any training but that isn’t the problem. Many of the videos shared are from people that have achieved lots with their dogs and they are simply repeating what has worked from them but they haven’t moved on as science and its understanding of dogs has. People who happily collect awards without stopping to think about the other end of the lead and the journey their dog is taking and what that experience is like for their dog. Or perhaps people like I was who go to trainers using aversive/punishment-based training and see it is working and don’t ever realise what’s happening under the surface and who just happen to never find the information to realise any different. Not everyone using punishment is a bad person or someone unwilling to open up to change, sometimes it is just a lack of knowing any different, any better.

So, be careful what you wish for, when you have a problem, be clear in your intention of not just that you want it fixed but how!

This brings me to my next point, research! Don’t just watch a few YouTube vids of someone training or even just check out their testimonials or even….. and this one will surprise you….. just have a phone conversation! I once phoned a well-known dog trainer and was on the phone for 2 hours as I was so scared of ending up putting my dog in another awful situation, after those hours of discussing how I want to train and being reassured countless times that it would all be positive I rocked up to a group session where my puppy got smacked once and had a dummy thrown at her hip so hard she yelped…. I left and never went back but the damage was done, I could never take back that experience for her and I cried all the way home, I was devastated.

So my advice, watch full videos, ask for one if you can’t find one online, how are those methods carried out and how does the dog appear.

If you see any dogs in my classes or my own dogs practising loose leash walking or competition heelwork you’ll see super relaxed body language, head held high, tails wagging, happy excited faces.

So make your message to the universe clear when you search for help – “I want my dog to learn to loose leash walk by my side, happily!”

Search for positive reward-based training and make your goal a better bond and your training about taking an amazing journey together to reach an end result that makes you both happy!

xoxo Nina
Confident Canine ~ “Bringing balance to both ends of the lead!”

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Longhaired Weimaraner dog walking off lead with owner

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Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article is not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Nina Fotara T/as Confident Canine disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.