What’s the best way to train a new puppy or to work on a dog’s behavioural problem?
The answer is to take unsolicited advice from a random stranger!
How do I deal with those “you are doing it all wrong, you should do it like this” people?
The first thing is to do is stop being so British about it!
Brighton & Hove is generally a lovely friendly place but that doesn’t mean to have to do what any old random person tells you to do. Take responsibility and remember that your dog is totally dependent on you so if that means getting away from that scary person then do it.
If you are not happy with what someone else is doing then take control. That means you don’t have to be polite and let a stranger pick up your puppy or stand by as their dog is being too rough with yours. You can, and should, take control and walk away.
What random advice might you get?
Just let him off lead – it will be fine
It will not be fine if your dog has not learnt recall and runs over to an aggressive dog on lead or a scared child.
Just let them sort it out
This is usually what someone says when their over-boisterous dog is terrorising yours. In this situation trust you instincts and walk away.
You need to show him who’s boss
This is someone who “trains” using fear and pain.They have probably seen a celebrity trainer on TV and now consider themselves equality qualified.
The list of bad advice is endless!
What not to do
It may be tempting to get into an argument with the other person. However, this may well cause your dog distress. People that know it all will not be open to reason. Just smile, say thank you, and walk away.
I constantly get told by clients they are overwhelmed by the contradictory advice they get from random people in the park and on the internet. I always try to give clients the reasons for my training advice and methods rather than just telling them what to do.
A real life example
I was working in the park with a client. I was assessing the dog and working on managing his behaviour and helping improve it.
Behind us is the park expert with her unsolicited advice. My client says thank you and we walk away. We walk along further but she catches us up. More expert advice which would have made the dog’s behaviour far worse. My client thanks her again and suggests we walk in the other direction.The expert is now shouting after us how she has had dogs for 20 years and is just trying to help. She probably did have lots of experience owning her own dogs but that does not make her an expert. Luckily my client had excellent social skills and could confidently manage the situation.
Take home message
Having a new dog will mean you get to talk to lots of new people in the park which can be lovely. You don’t, however have to take on board everything people tell you.Trust your instincts and get some professional advice if you need help.
Mike Garner is a dog trainer and behaviourist at Rainbow Dogs in Brighton & Hove, Sussex.
Follow Rainbow Dogs on Facebook.