Look Beyond the “System.”
(c) Pamela Dennison December 2015
It seems that everyone, in every field of dog training, has a new “system.” For this, for that, for every minutia, of every movement and thought; you name it, there’s a “system” for it. And if it’s “new,” then everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon and drink the new kool-aid; the new flavor of the month. Then that “system” is spouted again and again and again, with ever increasing fervor. Or you think that the new “system” is the “be all and end all, can’t be changed one iota.”
Please, for dog’s sake, STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!
There are “systems” for jumping, for crate training, for aggression, for loose leash walking, for new and so called “advanced” tools of torture, for everything under the sun. Most of the so-called “new” systems, aren’t new at all. Others have been doing them for years, but slap a new and sexy name to it and everyone follows them around like sheep.
I’ve seen owners driven to tears because their dog won’t fit into the “system.” I’ve seen instructors spouting that “system” get really angry because their clients round dog won’t fit into the square hole of the “system.” I’ve seen people take their dogs every few months to a new trainer promising an even newer “system,” hoping for the magic bullet that will cure/fix/change their dog.
Please for dog’s sake, LOOK at the dog in front of you!
Now that that’s off my chest – well some of it anyway…yes, every trainer has a “system.” I too have “systems”; for aggression, loose leash walking, jumping, not jumping, etc. However my “systems” aren’t so rigid that only one kind of dog can be successful. I adjust my “systems” to fit every dog I encounter. If one thing doesn’t work, then I try something else – all within the realm of positive training.
I too, have tried certain “systems” for behaviors I don’t normally teach. Some of them have worked, others not-so-much. Did I stick with the “systems” that didn’t work, just because others seem to be successful? Of course not! Did I tweak some of them for the dog in front of me? Did I abandon some of them because they weren’t working for me or the dog in front of me? Of course I did! It’s called critical thinking.
If the “system” you’re working with is so inflexible and unyielding that you and your dog are failing, it’s time to step back, rethink, and re-evaluate. Yes, maybe there are some owners who follow that “system” and are doing so well that you think just have to do it THAT way. You DON’T. Really.
I give you permission to work with the dog in front of you!!!!!!!