*Some restrictions apply.
Believe it or not, the dogs of (even superawesome) dog trainers are (in my experience) very rarely perfect. The dog trainers I know have a habit that is both wonderful and dangerous: they adopt the dogs with issues. But who better to pick these dogs? I can tell you pretty confidently that if another family had Daph, they would have returned her to the shelter after less than six months. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what happened. And Fae? Well, she’s awfully cute and is amazing in a lot of ways, but she has her flaws, too. No one likes a resource-guarding pit bull puppy, or a puppy that screams through the night**. Between those two qualities, any normal, sane person who didn’t train their dogs for fun would have returned her four months ago.
I recently mentioned to Turtle that a dog trainer friend was having some issues with her dog. Turtle was shocked! “But she’s a dog trainer,” she muttered in horror. “She’s supposed to have awesome dogs. Perfect dogs. You mean it’s not just us?”
I don’t know whether it’s the thrill of the challenge, the recognition that no one else would be willing to work as hard on the issues we see, or something else altogether, but I am here to tell you that a dog trainer with a Dog with Issues is not a recommendation to run the other way. Rather, it is a sign that the trainer is willing to do the work; that they know what is involved in changing a behavior that can truly affect the lives of both the dog and the owner; and that they are not just talking the talk. A trainer with a “problem dog” really does understand the stress of having a dog that barks at strangers and pulls on the leash. Hell, a trainer with a perfect dog (if such a thing exists) know what it’s like to have a dog that pulls on a leash.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to admit that my dogs aren’t perfect, and that I haven’t completely overcome every hurdle with them. Daphne still barks and lunges at strangers and vehicles. I still will not trust Fae with a ball and unfamiliar dogs in the same space. But I can tell you that we are working on it, and we work on it every day. I have some good tools and I definitely have the motivation (moreso when Turtle is saying, “Fix it. Fix it now.”). Most of the issues I see are not things you can fix in a day, but with just a few minutes every day, we are definitely making progress.
Have you ever met a perfect dog? Was it perfect everywhere***?
**Ok, that only happened once.
***Daphne is perfect in the house with everyone, but only after they have been in the house for 10 minutes. She is perfect with new dogs off-leash. She is perfect with any dog that comes into the house. Faegan is perfect in public, and when she is asleep.