Structure in the House

Most behavioral issues that people face in the home are due to a lack of structure and leadership in the house.  Dogs are put in a position where they need to make decisions with little to no guidance from us.  It is essential to shift that and apply rules and boundaries to get our dogs constantly thinking and looking to us to determine what is appropriate and not appropriate.

These are some basic structure and management techniques that will ensure that you have a well behaved dog in your home.  We put our emphasis on promoting only calm behavior in the house.  This will ensure that situations that are typically arousing, like having guests over or meal times, become much more manageable.  Some of these are temporary and some are permanent depending on the dogs individual issues and needs.

Furniture.

Dogs are our best friends.  We get them to cuddle on the couch and enjoy their company.  Heck, even my personal dogs sleep in the bed with me every night.

That being said it is essential that we create a boundary involving their access to our furniture right off the bat.  This will be the first step for getting your dog to ask for your permission in the house.  We implement a no furniture (Couches, chairs, bed) policy for the first 30 days the dog goes home.  If your dog jumps up onto the furniture you will calmly say “No” and deliver a correction with your remote collar at a motivating level.

*After 30 days we switch to permission based furniture access.  You will apply the same rules as before (no access to furniture with a correction for jumping up on their own) with the acceptation of being allowed up when WE invite them to come up.* (Any dog with aggression issues may be subject to this step being removed and maintaining a strict no furniture policy)

Furniture access is a privilege not a right and we want to ensure that we can remove it if need be to help provide much needed structure.  It is essential that we are consistent about this over the course of these first 30 days.  Any wavering from it will cause the dog to continue pushing the boundary you are trying to set and not reduce the behavior.

Guest/front door protocol

If there is one thing our clients struggle with in the house it’s having guests come over.  We see everything from explosive behavior when the door bell goes off, to jumping all over your guests as they are trying to walk into the door.  This is not only rude to our friends and family who are trying to say hello to us, but also can lead to more serious and dangerous behavioral issues down the line.

We set a very strict protocol for guests coming over.  Set yourself and your dog up for success by asking your friends and family for a few minor things before they come over.

1.) Forewarning before coming over or coming to the front door.  You will have a lot to focus on the first few times you have guests over.  Letting them in and getting your dog stationary in itself can be a task the first few times that you practice these drills.  Knowing before they come knocking at your dog will give you the time to prepare yourself to guide your dog through a distracting situation.

2.) Ignore the dog.  Have them follow the no look, no touch, no eye contact policy.  Your dog has a lot of associations with guests coming to your home.  Up until this point there is a good chance that it was “The Fido Show” every time anyone came over.  Adding any attention towards the dog right off the bat will make your job of getting your dog into a calm stable position 10x harder.

When the doorbell goes off we have a few things we need to do.  First and foremost is correct any explosion we may get to the doorbell going off.  Mark with a verbal “No” and deliver a correction at a motivating level on the remote collar (I typically will start at double what your dog works at under any other distractions the first few times).

Next we need to get our dog in a stable position.  I like to use our “Bed” command for this as it is the most clear and stable position.  Stand next to the bed and recall the dog over and onto it.  Proceed to let your guest in ONLY when the dog is in position and stable.  If your dog breaks command mark with your “No”, deliver correction, and take your dog back to “Bed”.

*Once things have settled down (not just 4-5 minutes) and your dog is relaxed and not anticipating being released (I mean it, they should be calm!) you may let him/her up to be apart of things.  Enforce a strict “Four on the Floor” no jumping policy as they are enjoying the company of your guest.  Give correction with remote collar if the dog gets to excited and begins to jump.* (Any dog with aggression issues may be subject to this step being removed and maintain a strict Bed policy around new guests)

Understand your dogs individual needs.  If there will be a lot of people coming over or your dog gets easily overwhelmed in busy situations they may need short exposure and frequent breaks away from all the action.  Our goal is to build their confidence through neutrality and coexistence.18424720_1584189038258564_1664609208_n

How Obtainable Are Your Goals?

Today I came to two realizations.  

1. It sucks saying no to things you really want to do but really shouldn’t do.. yet

2. Your dreams are way more obtainable than you think.  

Any of you that know me know that I have been diving very deeply into the world of personal, financial, and business development.  I have spent just about every free minute reading books, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and looking for new ways to continue pushing myself.  

The other day in my reading I stumbled across a fantastic concept called “dreamscaping”.  The idea is that whenever you are feeling platoed or at a standstill to come up with the three #1 things you would like to have, do, or be.  Once you do that you would select the top 3 that you can take action on.  This action will show you how much more obtainable your dreams are than you think.  

So I hunkered down and picked two #1 longtime goals.  Owning a luxury sports car and living in my dream apartment.

I took action and went to the dealership, picked out my dream car (A beautiful Porsche Panamera GTS), and scheduled a visit to a lakefront view apartment at the Quay 55 luxury living center in downtown Cleveland.

And Boom..

I got approved for both of them.  Two things that I otherwise would have thought I would never be able to accomplish or have were now within my fingertips.  Though it sucked turning them both down for practicality reasons at this point in my life, BOY did it drive a new fire into me.  

We constantly limit ourselves by saying “that will never be me” or “why dream that big when this is so much more practical?”.  Little do we realize that 99% of the population thinks that way making the middle ground goals congested and highly in demand.  The purpose of this excersise is to inspire and take your dreams and goals to a whole new level.  And boy did it work.  

Don’t set limits for yourself and keep dreaming.  

Set your clients up for success.  

Your client walks in 5 minutes late for their weekly session.  They are in a frenzy apologizing for running behind.  In front of them is the same dog that you spent an hour with last week working on leash walking, door manners, obedience and outlining everything they have to work on that week.  None of which included the dog pulling the owners into their next session.

You’re frustrated.  “How can they show up late and clearly not being doing what I told them AGAIN!”.  You let them settle in and finally ask “So how was the last week..?” Already knowing the answer.

Here’s the thing:  All of your frustration that you have for things not going exactly as you planned will do you no good.  Your clients are not dog trainers.  They live a normal life with a real job that doesn’t always involve spending 8 hours a day working with their dog.  Heck, my dogs are lucky to get a 20 minute session of “chuck-it” in the backyard after I finish working all of my clients dogs.

Do clients slack off?  Yes.  Do things not always go as planned? Yes.  But can you learn from it?  Absolutely.  Begin to look for patterns in your clients struggles or lack of effort.  If you are seeing a reoccurring trend in any of your programs target in on it.  Ask yourself “can I make this more simple or better motivate my client?”.

Do some serious self evaluations of your programs.  Simplify EVERYTHING where you can.  It shouldn’t require hours of work at home every day to get the results they’re looking for.  Connect with your client on a personal level.  Find out what makes them tick.  What motivates them or what hobbies they have at home.  Use these all as key points to help them come up with homework that will fit their lifestyle.

Then add in what isn’t working on their end.

Without the blaming or shaming.  They will already feel bad enough at that point.  Discuss what is working and what isn’t.  Inform them how much better things could be with some minor tweaks.  And continue to help them move forward in a productive way.

1.  Your clients will be more and more motivated as you make their goals more achievable.

2.  You will realize that your programs will get better as you learn to communicate effectively with people that have a vast range of lifestyles.

So ask yourself.  Did you put on the work?

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The Current State of Dog Training..

Being a dog trainer is the worst.  I do not enjoy waking up wondering which broken, mislead, or troubled dogs I will be working with on that particular day.  I do not enjoy knowing that because I have a bit more knowledge than your average dog owner on their precious fur babies, I am able to make a living off of their mistakes.

In this day and age there is a constant push for building businesses and making a quick dollar.  With over 78 million dogs owned by people all across the US alone, it is easy to see that there is no shortage of demand for people to help them with their pets.   The money is great, and the job security is there but where do we draw the line and realize that we are still providing an incredibly personalized service.  One that requires knowledge, passion, persistence, and an openness and awareness of the hardships you will face as your clients try to replicate what you are trying to teach.

Most dog trainers have a hard time realizing the importance of the position that they find themselves in.  They sway to far to the wrong side of the line.  Inexperienced handlers take on dogs that are way above their pay grade.  Companies sacrifice customer service and quality for profit margins and a quick turnover.  Meanwhile the customer struggles and dogs die because of it.

Heck, I’ve been there.  As a 22 (almost 23) year old dog trainer who has been in the industry for close to 3 years now i’ve managed to see it all.  Bosses taking the sleazy car salesman approach, trying to find any way to hustle off a few more sessions that either weren’t needed or would never get completed.  Working with dangerous dogs that, at the time, I knew nothing about.  Focusing on only myself using innovative training techniques for the sake of looking cool, not knowing that the client would never be able to replicate what I was doing.

Through all of the mistakes I’ve seen or made i have learned more than you can imagine.  Ive honed my craft and built something very successful that is consistently helping people in ways I couldn’t have imagined before.  This is what brought me here.  If I can continue to bring awareness to the issues at hand in our industry and push people to better what they are doing for the CLIENT and not just them we are going to make huge waves.

Will you follow my journey?

Much Love to all,

-David Tirpak

 

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