By Robin Hawn, Senior Brand Manager at PetSafe
A close friend recently invited me to participate in a pet painting class. The class involved bringing a photo of your dog and developing a canvas-creation of your pet’s likeness. My final portrait didn’t look as much like my dog as I would have hoped, but the 3-hour painting class was worth the “a-ha” moment it gave me about my dog.
Buckley’s smushed in face is probably my favorite of her features, but it is not so easy to paint. The gracious instructor eventually said to me “You are too close to your dog.” She meant that since I look at her so often, I see her and not the shapes that make her. She showed me her head was a square; her nose resembled a horizontal “E”. In the end, the image looked like a French bulldog, though not much like Buckley. It still changed my way of thinking about my dog. I really began examine my biases about her, which show up most often in what I think I’m training her vs. what she is actually learning.
The best example I have is in our game of chase. Buckley has never been great with a recall. If I don’t have her Venture Series Trainer on, she will not even look in my direction when I call her. When we are inside, I chase her around my living room much to her delight. But when go on a walk, she seems to think we are playing the same game. As long as I’m running after her, she is movin’ on down the road like a gleeful greyhound. I had never realized that this was a behavior I actually TAUGHT her until I saw her with fresh eyes.
I spoke with Mike Shafer, one of Dog Trainers on staff, and he recommended first that I stop chasing her inside and introduce toys as a game instead. When we are outside and she bolts, I should take out the toy, and either walk back in the direction of my house or sit down like I’m ready to play. His advice was to stay calm and keep it fun. It makes total sense why Buckley wouldn’t want to come to me when I frustrated and yelling at her.
I am being proactive about addressing the chase issue but moreover, I’m paying more attention to what I’m actually teaching Buckley all the time. It’s been a bit of a revelation for me. If we don’t look at our pets with fresh eyes occasionally, we may not realize that what we are teaching them isn’t the experience that we ultimately want with our dogs.
Take a minute today to take a fresh look at your dog; you may just be surprised by what you see. What have you or your pet learned in your training session lately? Let us know in the comment section below and we’ll enter you to win the Remote Trainer of your choice!
Robin Hawn is the Senior Brand Manager of the PetSafe Family of Brands for Radio Systems Corporation, head quartered in Knoxville, TN. She works to build a brand of products designed to give consumer more of the best moments they can possibly have with their pets. She has a MBA with a Marketing Emphasis, a B.A in English, and 10 years experience developing and launching marketing plans, brand strategy and PR campaigns across a variety of diverse industries. Her French bulldog Buckley typically logs the same hours at the office as Robin. She volunteers with the Most Pet Friendly Community initiative that has a mission of making Knoxville, TN the most pet friendly community in America.