Getting to Good Enough
When I first got my dog, Bosco, he came with every problem in the book. The first day I got him home, I received a package of dog food in the mail. I grabbed the box on the way through the door and set it just inside, leaving it there to unpack later. When I went back to get the box, Bosco had decided that the box was his. He growled and lunged at me when I approached and wouldn’t let me within 5 feet of the box. Clearly this was going to be a problem. After about 8 to 10 repetitions of walking up, dropping a piece of salami on the floor and walking away again, Bosco decided it was OK for me to take the box.
Did I then go set up multiple scenarios to re-create this situation and train Bosco to never resource guard anything else? Nope! I just made sure from then on that food items I received in the mail went directly from the door to the kitchen counter or that Bosco was contained elsewhere.
Next I discovered that Bosco is extremely reactive on leash. His triggers? Other dogs, children, and garden statues. Yes, you read that right. My dog is reactive to garden statues.
Now I could have implemented a behavior modification program and fixed all of this but I am lazy AF and opted instead to just play with Bosco in the back yard instead of taking him for walks. He gets plenty of exercise working on his recall. I toss a treat out in the yard for him to find and he runs back to me for another one, because, of course, my dog doesn’t play fetch either. If I throw a ball for him, he just stands there looking at me like I’m an idiot.
Lots of people think that because I’m a trainer, I must have a dog that is perfectly well behaved and highly trained. I do know a lot of trainers that have this dog but I’m definitely not one of them. The truth is, I’m just like the majority of my clients. I don’t need a highly trained dog, I just need a dog I can live with and if I can achieve that through a little bit of management and minimal training, then that’s good enough for me.
Many of my clients start out feeling guilty about how little training they’ve actually done with their pets. They tell me, “I know I shouldn’t let my animal do this” or “I know I should be doing this with my pet”. But if the behavior is not really a problem for them, then why should they have to do anything about it? Like me, most people just want to be able to live comfortably with their pets. Management and some basic foundation skills is good enough for them. It’s a great relief for these clients to know that I am not there to train their animals to some extreme and impossible standard. If a baby gate or a stuffed Kong is going to resolve their problem, then why not use it? I am perfectly fine with training people‘s pets to good enough.