How many people do you know who have picked up a new dog or puppy and decided, “I can train my own dog”? I don’t need any professional help”?
I can safely say that among my family and friends almost all of them say that. I think people naturally lean toward answering that question with “yes”. From what I can tell, here are the top reasons why.
Top Reasons People Decided to Train Their Dogs By Themselves
- Since they have had dogs in the past (whether as a child or adult), they assume they’re going to be able to train the one they have now.
- They may have seen popular TV dog trainers and assume that after just a few episodes they have everything they need to do it themselves.
- Finances and time constraints can prevent getting professional help.
But what happens if we change that initial question. What if, instead of asking “Can I train my own dog myself?”, we asked, “Should I train my own dog myself?”. There’s a good chance we might hear a different answer.
Just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they necessarily should. Let’s face it, whatever we go into a situation in which we think we can, we sometimes end up shooting ourselves in the foot. We may even be causing much more damage without even knowing it.
- Can I fix all of the plumbing in my house?
- Can I fix all of the electrical in my house?
- Can I put a new roof on my house by myself?
How many people do you think answer those questions with a resounding “yes”, only to make things far worse than they ever were in the first place?
It’s not uncommon for people to overestimate their abilities.
This is a very different question. Right out of the gate, this question accepts that one’s ability has limits. It also recognizes that things can go very, very wrong if one fails.
No, let’s look at those common answers again through the lens of “should I”.
“I've Had Dogs Before”
There are a variety of versions of this. They may sound something like this…
- “I grew up with dogs.”
- “I’ve been around dogs my whole life.”
- “I had a dog 10 years ago.”
All of those make an assumption. They assume the profession’s understanding of dogs and how to train dogs doesn’t advance.
Think about it this way…
Have you ever watched those old movies or TV shows with a one-room schoolhouse? Do you remember those scenes where the teacher asked a question, the student answered wrong, and the teacher cracked a ruler on the back of the student’s knuckles as punishment?
That was old-timey educational theory in practice. A student’s incentive to study and make sure they knew the material was simply to avoid physical pain and social embarrassment.
Now, what would happen to a teacher if they did that in today’s classroom? They face charges of abuse and lose their job. They may even lose the opportunity to work in the educational field again. After all, what school wants to deal with the kind of lawsuit that comes with that kind of behavior out of a teacher?
While that violent form of education was standard in its day, educational theory and practice has changed through the years. As a result, what was once the norm, is now rejected.
Think about this in relation to dog training. Very often, people who believe they can train their own dog because they’ve had experience with dogs in the past, end up using obsolete understandings of how dogs process information and outdated, often violent, methods.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that some people who believe they can train their own dog based on pas experience with dogs have actually learned modern dog training theory and techniques along the way. That’s great! For them, maybe the answer to “Should I train my own dog?” should be “yes”.
From what I gather, however, this is not the situation for most dog owners. In fact, I suspect that people who are more likely to know more about modern dog training have done so because they have sought out professional help from a modern dog trainer in the past. This means they have answered that question with “no” at some point and asked for help.
“I've Watched Enough Dog Training on TV.”
Unfortunately, I don’t consider popular dog training TV to be high-quality dog training education.
It seems that the more popular, more aggressive, trainers tend to capture the spotlight. These are trainers who choose to draw from obsolete understanding of dogs and have build their dog obedience businesses around using violent, and sometimes abusive, techniques.
Bottom line is that the dog training shows on TV that I’m aware of are just simply bad information, from a science-based perspective.
I admit that I’m often surprised by how ignorant popular dog trainers are, even when it comes to some of the most basic science.
I remember watching a video years ago of one very popular trainer. In it, he actually made fun of giving a puppy treats for going to the bathroom outside during potty training . He identified that approach to training as ridiculous and went so far as to mock it as something “only in America”.
Watching more videos with him in it, I came to realize the extent to which he really didn’t understand very well the concept and appropriate application of simple positive reinforcement. This is probably the most basic thing about dog training that anyone could ever know. Yet, he showed clear signs of not actually getting it.
So, no, I don’t consider dog training TV shows to be good sources of information. But what about YouTube?
YouTube is definitely a better source of information for dog training. There are amazing trainers there.
But here’s the problem with YouTube. There’s a lot of downright dangerous information on there as well. Unless you know what you’re looking for, you are taking a risk.
"I Don't Have the Time or the Money for Dog Training Classes."
This is the most legitimate reason to train your own dog. I get it. Life is very busy, and sometimes simply staying afloat financially is hard.
If you’ve ever checked into private dog training, you know it can be extremely expensive. In my area (Beloit, WI), from what I gather the average range for a private lesson is around $100 to $125 for one session. That session might be 45 minutes or an hour. You might even have to take your dog to their facility. And, if you work online over video (such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype), you usually pay the same price because the knowledge you have access to is the same regardless of whether you get access to it in-person or online.
Because funds and time are tight, for many people dog training is a luxury service that they only buy if they absolutely need to.
For people in this situation, I totally empathize. It’s important to do the best you can with what you’ve got.
Cutting-Edge Dog Training that is Accessible and Affordable
“Can I train my own dog by myself?” “Should I train my own dog by myself?”
Sorry, but I really cannot answer either of those questions for you. You have to come to your own conclusions after considering them deeply rather than relying on assumptions.
What I can do, however, is try to create options for you so that you don’t feel like you need to train your dog by yourself.
If you haven’t checked out my Canine Coaching Course, I encourage you to do that. Through this incredibly economical course, I teach you how to use the very system that I use when I train dogs.
My goal is to help you learn to think and function more like a dog trainer. That way you can create your own training on the fly as you need it rather than relying on a pro.
It will also help you to understand different approaches to dog training so that you can evaluate materials you come across as you seek to grow has your dog’s life coach.
For those who want private, one-on-one access to me for the course, you can see what it includes on the Canine Coaching Course information page. This training class is perfect for dogs of all ages, whether puppies, adolescents, or adults.
For those on more of a budget, I have my online group dog training version. It is the same material, but because you are sharing my time with others, it doesn’t cost as much.
I really do want you to reach a level of dog training ability where you can legitimately answer the question, “Can I train my own dog?” with a resounding “yes!”
If you would like to talk with me about how I can help, just pick a spot on my calendar for a free 30-minute phone appointment. It’s on my dime and you are under no obligation to sign up, so it’s risk-free.
And if you are struggling financially, tell me about that. We can work something out to keep the cost within your financial constraints.
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Hi! I’m Bo McGuffee, owner of Puppy Tutor Dog Training. My mission is to make human dog training accessible and affordable. If you are looking for an alternative to the more aggressive training styles out there, then you’ve found the perfect dog trainer for you and your dog.