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Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Can't Teach Stupid!

Ah, doesn't this look comfy to
 be in18 hours a day?
Just look at all the room in this thing!

  Help! My dog is out of control!

 How many times has this been said by the person who wanted a dog, but did not want or know how to invest the proper time needed for training?

I am sure I may have written something similar over the years but it bears repeating, especially when it continues to be an issue with new and old customers. The new customers I kinda get it, but those who know me, know I have made this speech before if it needed to be made.

The Familar Story
A number of years ago a friend had to get rid of her dog and this has only come up now because I ran across this same experience with someone else recently.  My friend’s  dog was a young Golden Retriever and was acting very unruly during the evening hours when everyone had come home from work. This after being in a dog crate all day. This dog was wreaking havoc in the home and making the human kids unsettled due to nipping and jumping.

( I’m sure all the dog trainers out there know where I’m going with this one!)

At that time, I personally had six dogs living with me and two children so I could not take on another dog and someone else was found to take the dog which we all thought was wonderful at the time, until that person contacted me and told me how unruly this dog was and asked me to come for a visit to talk about training the dog.

When I got to the house and met this Golden, I noticed that it was indeed young, large, and out of control. As I sat on the floor the dog was jumping back and forth over me nipping my arms and legs, tugging on my shirt, and unable to rest or focus for even a second!

As far as I’m concerned, Golden’s are usually a very loveable breed  and great for family life, (Just ask my Golden, Casey) however if they are not given the proper exercise and job to do they can be just a tad bit H-Y-P-E-R!  What I learned about this Golden during the hour I spent with the new owner is that the dog was kept in a crate all day when the husband and wife went to work, let out for a few hours, maybe walked for a half hour a day, and then put back into the crate when the owners went to bed for the night! (Hmmm, seemingly similar to the original owner!)

Pardon me, but OMG!  I would be bonkers too if I were that dog! While I can understand why people want dogs, I will never understand why they can’t be honest with themselves if they don’t have the time and energy to put into dog ownership. Unlike years ago when  you brought home your newborn child which did not come with a parenting manual, (By the way, I sure hope that has changed!) there are several books written on dogs and dog training! Hell, there are even classes!

Ten hours a day and eight hours a night in a crate is toooooooo much! I am not saying you can’t have a full time job and have a family dog. What I am saying is be honest! If you know you can’t be home to watch and exercise a dog then hire someone to do it for you, but don’t crate a working dog all day and night and believe it will grow up to be a well adjusted family pet!  In the slim chance that it might work, do me a favor and please check the dog’s pulse!

Unfortunately this person who I visited for an hour could not handle the dog and was only willing to pay for one hour of training, as if I could give the ultimate knowledge and wisdom in dog training in an hour! This is why I am so reluctant to do home based trainings anymore, people want a magic cure, as quick fix, a calming pill, they don’t want to take the time needed to actually learn and work with the dog whether it be for potty training or obedience training.
To me this was as much of a lost cause as the person who originally gave the dog up to begin with! I can’t help someone that needs intense training on how to spend time with their dog when they can’t see or admit to the problem and are unwilling to change any of their habits.

I can teach an old dog new tricks, but I just can’t teach stupid!  If this sounds harsh, too bad! Maybe that’s why my favorite movie line is from Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

This poor dog went through three families, in a year. Thankfully, he was eventually sent to a farm where he would get plenty of run time and not live his life in a cage. That being said though, just because a dog goes to a place where they are not caged and have acres upon acres to run, they can still be unruly and aggravating to your family and neighbors if not trained. You need to guide them through the talent of which they were bred for, running free is not the full answer, however for this poor dog I was glad it was no longer locked in a crate all day, which was a start.

Like I said, I can’t teach stupid!

Casey doing what he loves most


  1. Couldn't agree with you more, another insightful artical. Please keep them coming.

  2. Good article and sadly very common.

    I think crate training can have its benefits but it can become all too convenient for an owner to shut the dog away instead of fixing the problem.

  3. Thank you Zoe for your comment. Crate training is a good alternative to aid with potty training or destructive behavior, but it should not be a 12 plus hour thing or the dog never really learns anything. It often confuses me and angers me when people who work long hours get dogs and don't make arrangements for it to be walked or checked on, then want to know why their dog behaves this way. I liken it to being forced to sit in one's bathroom until someone comes to unlock the door. I would be bonkers too!