It all started a few years back when love him or leave him, Caesar Milan hit the airwaves with the blessings of National Geographic, a household name that was synonymous with those yellow banded periodicals showing glimpses of cultures from around the world. And since that time there have been many other dog trainers using the medium of television, You Tube and the like to entertain, illustrate their training “style” and get the all-important marketing message across. But do these 20 minute or less snippets cause more harm or good for the pet owners trying to bring about change with their own dogs?
Can those 20-minute episodes sandwiched between diaper and kibble ads that address more serious issues like aggression or separation anxiety cause more HARM than GOOD? The answer is yes. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe instant gratification has caused us as a society to be less patient. According to the article:
“The need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner,” said Narayan Janakiraman, an assistant marketing professor at the University of Texas, Arlington.” And according to Phil Fremont-Smith of ImpulseSave, a Cambridge company that encourages individuals to save through an app that tracks spending and sends congratulatory messages, “We’re not wired to think about the long-term anymore.”
Dogs are long-term commitments, and anyone that has ever encountered serious behavior issues will tell you that it can take weeks or even years to counter-condition and build or change behavior. It is a time consuming process.
And yet I have customers who will ask me why it takes so long for their dogs to learn the behaviors they saw rectified on television in just 20 minutes. I am not surprised. It is a natural response. And often they feel frustrated and depressed when faced with the reality of their situation. That training takes time and dedication.
What will they do? They can take on the task themselves or they can shop for someone else to train their dog. Don’t get me wrong…I have “Board and Train” clients but quite honestly it all comes back to the owner building a bond with the dog through daily interaction. And I tell them this right up front. And then they have to make a decision.
And those that choose to stick with their dogs…to invest their time and patience in their pets…they have truly amazing results. I smile when I see them parading through Valley Hospital or the local libraries with their therapy dogs. They show me photos of their families growing up with the dogs. Their trips to visit colleges together and family vacations are all wonderful to see and share.
Life is about making choices. And when it comes to dogs we need to step back, take a deep breath and realize that spending time with our dogs and training them is time well spent.