Dogs will be dogs, even if you're a dog trainer

At Take the Lead we have 5 dogs - a smorgasbord of breeds and histories that keep me on my toes, make me a better dog trainer, and help us train and rehab every dog who comes see us!

What do I mean by that? Well first off-- the notion that as a dog trainer I have perfect dogs is BOGUS! We have a mötley crew who challenge us everyday, make us put in the work, and make mistakes all the time. Even though they help by working and socializing with other dogs on a daily basis, they are just like your dog - these guys do stuff that erks me AND have some behaviors I have to keep in check.

Most of our dogs are adopted, however even the dogs from breeders had their set of issues. Yep! They are DOGS and they will do doggie things, regardless of their past. Rescued or purchased makes no difference because a dog is a dog - they are adapting to their environment and reacting to life around them. If they were having problems before I got them, it is usually related to an environment without believable leadership, set boundaries, and dogs who were stuck in a bad state-of-mind, resulting in toxic choices. The relationship between a lack of boundaries, poor impulse control, too much freedom, affection before direction, and bad behaviors go hand in hand.

For example Sadie, my little GSD, is my youngest dog who plays great with all the dogs that come through! Behind her, is our girl Khalessi who also picks her buddies and plays HARD! My older guys Ramses, Mowgli, and Leo serve as more of the "boring old crowd" which also has a place of importance too, walking the perimeter and helping set and recieve boundaries. As a pack they are a pretty fun squad of team mates, who work with us daily. However, at the beginning they all came from colorful backgrounds which required a ton of foundation and preliminary work when they originally joined the pack. As the group evolves and grows, even now, we are still are as active as ever in the pack's day to day activities and choices years later (I often tell clients not to "check out" on their dog - this is what I mean. Be aware of your dog's behaviors and how they are feeling and reacting!)

Your dog's behavior can change, it absolutely can! The dogs we have today are NOT the dogs we had years ago. They help us daily socializing with other dogs and people! BUT (and here's the hard part) that's because we figured out what we needed to change about how we interacted with our dogs, and how they interacted with each other years ago (this does not mean we are not still working with them daily! They are living creatures who still make choices just like you and I - sometimes good, sometimes bad). Because your dog has behavioral issues, doesn't mean things can't change. They can, but it takes daily diligence, consistency, leadership, set boundaries and rules, all while continuing to learn and grow from each success and mistake. For us, balanced training, learning how to share leadership, and set boundaries was key - when our dogs learned what they could and couldn't do (as well as us humans, too!), we realized we were speaking a language they finally understood.

Don't let your dog's past stop them from improving. If you're struggling with your dog, like we did (and the many people who had some of these dogs before they came to us) look for help and be open to changing things. You CAN live more harmoniously with your dog(s). Just be prepared to work for it :)

One last note: whether adopting a dog or buying one, there is no guarantee either way you will get a low maintenance, no drama pup. Getting a new dog? Get ready to work...and have a great time doing it! :)

If you're busting butt with your dog, keep up the great work! I know it can be so hard sometimes, but also so rewarding! 

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