Training Talk: Will You Follow Through?

Above: Dog Training Group Photo Copyright & Courtesy of AirWaves1

Lately I’ve been amused by some of the things I’ve seen or have heard from my students.

My career has mostly been centered on the training of wild and exotic animals but when I moved to the mountains I began to work with domestic animals and their owners.

I no longer offer group classes and my clients are strictly referral but I am always amazed that the same things come up again and again.

One of my students told me she has been reading a lot of animal training books and that “everything that you have told me to do is right on.”


I am glad to see that she is avidly reading and is goal oriented but my friend’s laugh when I share the story.

Why? Because I have a degree in exotic animal training and management, certifications in several animal training specialties, and many more years experience than some of those who have authored such books.

But this situation is not unique. It has always amazed me to find people who have hired professionals for assistance and then continue to ask others or look elsewhere for verification.

When someone asks me about their trainer or the strategies being used–I usually refer them back to the trainer for clarification.

The whole reason you hire a professional is to get the coaching to short cut the work. In most cases you don’t need to go beyond that decision.

When people second guess that professional or argue over the protocols–it has always has amazed me.

I remember when my colleague was in the hospital for an extended period of time.

His former apprentice and I split up his practice so it kept running and gave him an income while he was incapacitated.

His specialty was the non-force rehabilitation of dangerous dogs.

These were dogs who were going to face euthanasia if they were not rehabilitated. The list included dogs that had bitten everyone in the family, tore off the ear of a child, or were a danger to society.

During a routine history, before I met the dog at one home, I asked, “When was the last time this dog bit someone?”

The answer?

“Two week ago.”

The father of the family held up his hand to display two deep canine puncture wounds through the fleshy part of his hand.

After I met the dog (a large, dominant bitch) I outlined the protocol.

The family immediately began to argue with me about the 100% compliance I required.

I couldn’t believe it.

So, I took a deep breath and said, “You can be 100% compliant or euthanize the dog–which do you choose?

Believe it or not they continued to argue–and I continued to ask the same question until I got the answer–which was that they would comply.

People want animal training to be easy and to see quick results.

If you are persistent and consistent–it can be. However, in most cases it requires that you follow through and don’t make exceptions to the directives you have been give.

It also takes daily effort and conscious attention to those pattens of behavior within the household that contribute to the undesirable (and sometimes dangerous) behavior.

Plus the owner must apply those techniques and follow the protocol outlined–without exceptions.

When you make exceptions that is when can mean trouble.

The family did not do everything outlined as quickly as I would have liked, so instead of seeing results in 8 to 16 weeks, it took them six months to achieve the goal.

When I got the excited phone call reporting that they had successfully had a party without the dog biting anyone–I took a deep breath and then congratulated them.

I would have preferred faster results but they were elated that they had finally accomplished their goal and that the dog was now a successful member of the family.

Today, I still see people who think that they can make an exception to the rules.


Follow the directions of your animal trainer or behavior consultant and contact them when you are unsure or if there is an incident.

As animal trainers we won’t always explain the nuances behind the protocols we assign.

Our ultimate goal is to get the pet owner (or animal caretaker) to follow through…to success.

Do you follow through or do you have a story to share? If so, leave your story below!

About Ark Lady

+ArkLady Enhances the Lives of Animals & Empowers the People Who Love Them! Join the armchair safari or connect via ARKlady website.