Training dogs? Learn when to ask for help.

In the age of the internet, where dog training information on every subject is only a click away, I’m noticing something very interesting amongst dog trainers. We’ll spend hours researching a troublesome dog training topic on Facebook, Instagram and even on Tiktok, but often it doesn’t occur to us to actually ask another for help.

There are probably many reasons we don’t ask for help ranging from embarrassment to being in so deep we can’t actually see a problem. I could probably write a whole series of posts on why we don’t ask for help, and another whole post on who we can ask for help but, for now, I want to take some time to outline some situations when we should at least consider asking for help.

1. Lack of Progress

If you have been working on something for a reasonable amount of time, and you aren’t seeing consistent improvement or progress, it might be time to ask for help. Of course, what constitutes a ‘reasonable amount of time’ is going to depend on the behaviours you are training, however if it feels like you’ve been working on it forever, you probably have. Ask for help.

2. Regression

If you initially had progress while working on an issue and then start to see your dog’s behaviour regress, it’s definitely time to call in the cavalry.

3. Unexpected Fallout

If you are working on, say, reducing your dog’s reactivity around children, and are seeing improvement in that area but also seeing other unwanted, changes in behavior, you might want to get some help. Uexpected fallout like, loss of enthusiasm, changes in appetite, sleep pattern changes, and changes in responses to previously known cues can all be indicators that you may be out of your depth and need help looking at the bigger picture.

4. Frustration

If training a behavior causes you the kind of frustration that your dog is likely to pick up on, phone a friend. The frustration can be a barrier in itself, or it can be the result of any of the situations mentioned above. No matter the reason, if we’re not handling our own frustration well, we risk damaging our relationship with our dogs and a helping hand can make all the difference.

5. Starting a New Sport

If you are starting a journey on a new sport, it is invaluable to have guidance as you begin. An experienced mentor can help you set the proper foundation for the sport and help you avoid common pitfalls.

Now that you’ve read through my list, I’m hoping that, whatever stage you are at in your dog trainer journey, you can be more comfortable asking for help next time one of these situations comes up. I know from personal experience that asking for help from others has opened the door to a number of wonderful friendships with fellow trainers and helped me through numerous training challenges over the years.

As always, I’d love to hear your questions, compliments and criticisms below so talk to me about a time you asked for help!

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