The Right Dog

I’ve talked to quite a few dog owners as a result of writing Bad Dog to Best Friend. Once you write a book about training a problem dog, you find yourself meeting people with problem dogs everywhere you go.

One of those dog owners had been through several dogs and when her dogs hit that rebellious teenager stage, she’d ship them off to somebody else and go adopt a puppy. She never quite got the hang of training a dog so adopting a new puppy didn’t solve the problem, it just started the cycle all over again. From her perspective, she just hadn’t found “the right dog” yet.

What she didn’t realize is that there is no such thing as “the right dog.” Puppies come to us as blank slates and it is our job as the dog trainer to fill that blank slate with positive dog training. While there are certain factors based on the dog’s breed that will steer the dog in one direction or another, you are still in control of where your dog ultimately ends up on the training scale.

And if you think you are not a dog trainer, think again. The minute you adopt a dog you become his trainer regardless of how you see yourself. Not training a dog is just as powerful as training him, because he will be learning from you. Failure to take the lead results in a dog who hits that teenage rebellion stage, putting you at your wit’s end and sending your dog to the dog pound.

I tried to gently explain to my friend that learning the skills of how to train your dog carries with you for life. While that first bad dog may be a learning experience as our dog Dakota was, once you learn the proper skills of training a puppy, from that day forward all of your dogs will be good dogs. The dog training techniques will be with you for every dog you adopt thereafter.

Not only that, the dog training skills that you learn will rub off on your friends and family. If you have kids, you can teach them the skills so that their lives can be full of happy, well-behaved, well-adjusted dogs. Your friends will see your well-trained dogs and they’ll watch you for tips to take home to their own dogs.

So while taking on the challenge of training a problem dog seems overwhelming, it’s only overwhelming for the training of that one dog. You almost learn more yourself when you have to take on a big challenge, such as training a dog that you’ve allowed to travel down the bad dog trail.

It’s totally worth the effort to learn the skills of dog training so that all of your dogs can be happy housemates and make no mistake — owning a dog makes you a dog trainer whether you like it or not, so why not learn how to train your dog successfully?

If you’d like to read the story of the problem dog that challenged us, Bad Dog to Best Friend shares her dirty deeds, head-strong nature, humorous anecdotes, and some of our tips in retraining her.

If you know someone with a dog who never quite got the hang of potty training, or who thinks the house is a giant chew toy, give them this book. Dakota was a semi-adult shelter dog who was the Queen of Bad Behavior and the Master of Dirty Tricks. Bad Dog to Best Friend takes you from Dakota’s awful beginnings to her amazing transformation, and includes detailed how-to’s for potty training an adult dog and stopping your dog from chewing your house to pieces.

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