When you’re trying to work with your dog on training or behavior issues, chances are you’ll need help from the other people in your home. But what if those people aren’t on board? Maybe your husband or wife disagrees about the training methods, a roommate doesn’t want to get involved, or a parent keeps straying from the training plan?
ASK YOURSELF WHY
- are they frustrated or anxious?
- are they overwhelmed or unsure what to do?
- are there logistical challenges (like time to train)
- do they understand the importance?
- are they afraid of the dog?
- do they distrust the training methods?
(we have to know WHY before we can change it!)
- make treats easy! store the pouch with the leash and poop bags, or keep a container on the desk/coffee table where it’s easy to access.
- set small goals! set aside 50 pieces of kibble/treats to give per day, or set a goal of working on just one behavior for 2 minutes.
- double up! ask for training that “doubles” with something- mealtime, or on a walk. Extra time training can feel like a lot!
(when in doubt, ASK what’s getting in the way!)
THEY DISTRUST THE TECHNIQUE
- acknowledge the beliefs! if someone has grown up with dogs and always done things a certain way, it can be hard to change that mindset!
- ask for curiosity or a trial! things like “other methods haven’t worked well so far, so can we try clicker training?” or “let’s try this for 30 days and re-evaluate!
- show small wins! find something simple/small that your partner/family will get excited about! Whether it’s a spin cue or just pottying outside, a small win can help someone see that the training works.
(working with a certified trainer or behavior consultant can help! Contact us for more info.)
DON'T SEE THE IMPORTANCE
- explain why it’s important to YOU! not everyone has the same expectations for their dog. explain what YOU feel is important! Remember, your partner/family likely cares a lot more about you/your needs than about dog training.
- be open about what you want! let them know that you’re upset or frustrated, and that you’d really like them to be involved.
- start a conversation! ask what THEY want to see from training, and what they expect to do (or get out of it). Make sure you’re on the same page (or at least similar pages)
(having honest conversations is really important!)
FEAR OR BROKEN BONDS
- validate the fear. especially if the dog has harmed them (or someone else), it’s totally valid to be afraid. We have to respect that.
- repair the bond (when you can) help them gain trust with the dog. this could mean engaging in favorite activities, doing fun stuff, etc.
- don’t push it. sometimes there’s no quick fix, and it may take time for someone to warm up to a dog- especially after an incident. always be safe!
(remember that this is normal! it happens.)
- break it down! don’t give them the 10 page training plan- give them clear, concise instructions for something simple!
- ask for confirmation! ask for their feedback to make sure they actually understand the training and know what to do.
- build confidence! especially at the beginning, ask for small, manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
(try giving ONE task, and make it easy.)
- validate the feelings. sometimes frustration and anxiety can prevent the best of us from wanting to train! we have to be willing to acknowledge those feelings.
- ask for information. find out what’s causing the anxiety, whether there are other causes, and what the details are. make sure they know you’re listening!
- don’t push it. identify coping strategies together, and have each other’s back. especially with behavior issues, frustration is part of the deal. work together to find some solutions for what to do when someone gets anxious.
(and talk to a qualified therapist if you need to!)
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS- (this one's for YOU!)
- not everyone can/will. sometimes humans are physically (or mentally or logistically) unable to participate in the way you want them to
- set yourself up for success. if you truly can’t get their help/support, what can you do? make plans to help you be as successful as possible, even if you can’t get them on board.
- prepare for your own frustration. you may need to have some difficult conversations and face your own anger or sadness. it sucks, but it’s normal.
POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT- (it's for humans, too!)
- acknowledge small wins. just like rewarding your dog for new skills, acknowledge what your partner/family did well!
- give thanks (or other good stuff). whether it’s praise or thanks or gestures of kindness or chocolate, reinforce the humans with high value rewards they care about. And MAKE IT FUN!
- build on new skills. you may need to shape their behavior over time. small victories in the beginning can lead to bigger ones later!