Why we must train ourselves, before we train our dogs

15 Sep

Written by: Annie Aubrey

On our walk the other day we met a lady, who upon seeing us, fearfully dragged her dog into a drive way to avoid contact with us. Her anxiety was obvious, so I assured her Sam was friendly.


I explained if she could just relax and calm down her dog would calm down.

“I know she said I just can’t, I have had a few dog trainers and nothing works”

She acknowledged she wasn’t a confident dog  handler, and she also had an older dog  and the two dogs fought whenever they were together. She was questioning whether getting this dog had been a good idea.

This lady was focused on training her dog when in fact the focus should be on training herself and rehabilitating her dog. Her dogs are  mirrors of her behaviour, her anxious energy creates aggressive dogs.

Many well meaning dog lovers may not understand that their dogs are not happy being awful / aggressive / timid / fearful etc.

Dogs are looking for leadership, this creates balance. We must all be Packleaders  when with our dogs.

“No matter what,  everyone can  be the packleader,  You just have to do it.
If you can’t do it for yourself , do it for the dog whom you love.”

How do you recognise and maintain packleader energy? Let us know by leaving a comment.


6 Responses to “Why we must train ourselves, before we train our dogs”

  1. Jeelzebub September 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    I’m assuming your dog was leashed, and I see on-leash dogs as the perfect training opportunity! It sounds like she may have been doing the same thing, but it also sounds like she knew her dog was more than she could cope with. She must be a saint for continuing to try to help the dog – but the alternative probably isn’t easy either.

    I also have a reactive dog, and have been that same person on occasion. Speaking from “the other side”, I confess that the most irritating thing to hear when an OFF leash dog is approaching is “It’s OK, my dog is friendly”. Because, to be honest, yes, that’s great for you, but it’s not helping me if your dog is in my dogs face because my dog reacts to that. I’ve also had people tell me to calm down, and it infuriates me more, usually because they have neglected to call their dog after I have politely and calmly asked twice!

    I absolutely agree with you – if you are a nervous, reactive or excitable personality, it can really be unhelpful, especially for a reactive dog. I have had to work hard not only with training and learning about dog behaviour, but also with myself. I must not let myself be irritated by inconsiderate dog owners, not get nervous when I see other dogs approaching rudely, and am better at shrugging off unnerving moments. All for my dog, and it rubs off on her, but it’s also good for me, and it helps us all.

    I must say though, as a person who has on occasion ducked down driveways, hidden behind bushes, and simply got back in the car and gone to a different park to avoid dogs that are showing too much interest in us, or risky situations.

    It is amazing what people say to you when you politely ask them to call their dog.

    I get people telling me I should socialise my dog. Why do people assume that you do not , or that you don’t want to? Actually, I know I should, and I would love to do so, but it’s jolly hard to train her to a stage where I can safely socialise her with your dog in her face undoing weeks of training and removing all confidence we had. Indeed, thanks.

    I’ve had people tell me I should train my dog. See above. Yep – working hard on that one. Shame that it’s 3 steps forward, 2 steps back thanks to inconsiderate dog owners with rude dogs.

    I’ve had people telling me I should take my dog somewhere else if she doesn’t get on with other dogs. This is usually after I have asked them to call their dog with my dog on-leash and being relatively calm. It’s not as if I asked them to do something outrageous – it’s the law after all. I have a right to walk my dog where I want to as long as I keep to the bylaws, which I do.

    And yes – I get many, many people calling out that their dog is friendly. Usually from some distance away after I have asked them to call their dog. It’s infuriating and downright rude! I don’t care if your dog is friendly – even if my dog is friendly too, it’s only polite to ask first. I may be training. My dog may be injured. I may be feeling ill and not wanted to be social. I love dogs, but I don’t always want other peoples’ dogs approaching me and my dog. If I do, I’m likely to say hello and ask. Why don’t other people do the same?

    I agree that many dog owners aren’t able to recognise their own dog’s behaviour issues. They claim their dog is friendly, then it rushes up rudely or jumps all over dogs that are clearly showing calming signals or even growling. Why do so many dog owners seem to think that their dog has to say hello to every dog it encounters? I don’t know what’s going on with dog ownership, but it seems that most dog owners are not really “dog people” so much as they are “their own dog’s person”.

    Rant over! Thanks for the article. : )

    • jamanda September 17, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

      Great comment, and perhaps a good topic for a future article.

      There do seem to be a lot of folks out there who are owned by their dogs, there are also a lot of people who think it is fine to just rush over and start petting your dog just because they’re cute. Sam and the beagle boys next door get a lot of this sort of attention, fortunately all three of them are very tolerant of squealing children and adults, but many times there are situations where fingers could have been nipped had it been a less tolerant dog.

      Attaching a yellow ribbon to your dog’s lead is an international sign that your dog likes space, though it may only be the ‘dog people’ who know about this one and the average pet owner may not know. It may still be a good tool for you to try though, and perhaps you could educate other owners when they ask you what the ribbon means. Sometimes it works more in our favour to train other humans in a positive manner, though this can sometimes be very difficult when many people are blind to their, or their dog’s faults.


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