Dynamics of dog owners...

In my dog training life I have the opportunity to meet a variety of dog enthusiasts and pet owners.  I have learned to adjust to the varying personalities that one comes across in the dog training world.  There is one type of dog owner that still fascinates me… it is the person that selects a breed with a negative reputation in the public mind, not because the dog makes them feel tough, but because the dog is misunderstood and needs an advocate. They become a one person ACLU for their dog.

These folks are so entrenched in their need to have something to advocate for that they can no longer see their dog as the individual they are and become irate at any suggestion that they as the dog’s owner, may need to maintain a high level of training and management for their chosen breed.

Not being a professional psychologist I can’t say what the driving force behind this is. Most often the person I see that gets a dog that they feel needs constant defending is the person that does not feel empowered in their own lives, so they are powerful and strong on behalf of their dogs.

As trainers these can be the most challenging clients to work with.  When we try to address the needs of their chosen breed they become defensive and if we treat a German Shepherd from working lines like a confirmation bred Golden Retriever we do a disservice to the dog. What is a trainer to do?

In my experience the best direction to take is to help the client realize that they are their dog’s best advocate. By guiding them to the realization that they are the ones that can help change how society views their dog gives them the empowerment they seek and in the end benefits the dog.   That I find is truly empowering.

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