When I was in ninth grade, my natural science (shout out to you, Mrs. Lemp!) told our class “If you remember one thing from this class, remember this- every thing in nature wants to be in balance.” Clearly, this has stayed with me for, dare I say it, decades. A tree would fall over if all the branches were on one side, gravity wouldn’t work if it only pulled on half of the Earth, we need two legs to stand strong. So why is it any different when we’re training our dogs? They need “yes” and “no,” black and white, fun and structure.
Before I became a dog trainer, I had no idea there were two very polarized philosophies of dog training- balanced (that’s me!) where you correct the bad behaviors and reward the good behaviors and purely positive trainers where you ignore the bad behaviors and only focus on praising the good behaviors.
As in most things in life, I’ve adopted the philosophy of “you do you.” If it works, do it. If it doesn’t work, tweek your approach until it does. I follow that philosophy when it comes to how I train dogs and maybe even more importantly, how I coach my human clients. We are all works in progress, our dogs are no exception. Sometimes you really have to dig down deep to find what works for the individual dog. Still, over and over again, I have not seen results with only saying “yes” to a dog. But what if that was the only method a struggling dog owner heard? What if that’s all they knew and then when it didn’t work with their dog? Say they felt hopeless and like they had no other option but to surrender the dog or maybe even euthanize the dog? The idea of that is what keeps me going on those days where I’d rather binge watch Stranger Things.
My number one priority is to keep as many dogs with their families as humanly possible. And the best ways to do that is be visible, offer a better way and empower dog owners that they have what it takes to have a good dog. Yes, even your dog can be a good dog! I do what I do to educate my dog-loving community. I do what I do to keep dogs alive. To keep them in their homes. To save marriages and families and make life better for dogs AND their people. So, my dear friends, you have options. Find what works for YOUR dog. Don’t worry about the thousands of ways to get there, just stay in your lane and keep working at it until you see results. The information out there can truly be overwhelming- I’ve been the information-overloaded, struggling dog owner myself. But keep searching until you find what gives you results. The solution is out there. I've seen it so many times with my own eyes and so many times it starts with saying "yes" and saying "no."
Remember the balance of nature and everything will work out in the end.