There are two reasons why this blog is called Diary of a Dog Pusher.
The first is because I – unconsciously, compulsively – try to get others to find the joy in having a dog. The first time my mom got her little chihuahua to go through a cat tunnel, I was ecstatic. When my friends come to watch classes, and decide to get dogs themselves so they can work with this beautiful, challenging, joyful animal, I nearly faint. When somebody comes to me with a difficult dog, I love that dog and that person all the more for striving to achieve something more than the sum of the dog’s issues, for trying to really fulfill that dog’s potential. When a difficult dog goes on to accomplish something – even if it’s to be an exemplary, steady household member, that sums up why I am into dogs, and why I try to
push encourage people to work with and live with dogs.
The second reason that I am a dog pusher is because that is what training is all about. Just like your own education, training pushes out your boundaries, it extends your abilities, expands your horizons, makes you more tolerant, more capable, more accomplished.
And with dogs, training is all about pushing. Push firmly, push gently, push inexorably, but push! If you don’t push your dog, if you let them continue on as they are, if you don’t challenge them, hold them to a higher standard, hold yourself to a high standard with them, then you are dooming that dog to a sub-par life.
It’s possible to push too hard – like everything in life, balance is essential. But you have to push. If your dog is a biter, then you have to expand their tolerance to a point where they accept your presence and your interference with them and they no longer bite. This is done slowly, inexorably, and with full knowledge that it will work.
If you have a dog that is fearful, it’s even more important to push their boundaries. Otherwise, you are leaving that dog to be trapped by its fear. That dog will never learn what it’s capable of because you’ve never taken it out of its comfort zone.
A lot of people seem to almost grow worshipful of their dog’s fear or aggression if they aren’t able to overcome it quickly enough, and though – like mentioned in an earlier post – it would be EXTREMELY AWESOME if everybody respected that dogs are individuals, aren’t perfect, have different temperaments and needs, and were quite capable of aggression – that’s not the world we live in.
The goal instead has to be that your dog can be taken out in public with a reasonable assumption that dog isn’t going to eat anybody or anything, even in the case of a horrible management failure. And if your dog isn’t to that point yet, and to take your dog in public is something that you want, then that should be something that you push for (and be honest and accept that they’re not ready yet to be publicly reliable and work them in conditions where the chance of a horrible management failure is nill, like class or on lead around dog saavy people).
After all, the less chance a dog gets to practice bad habits, the easier it is to push them beyond those bad habits. Pushing can be an uncomfortable process, but it’s worth every second when you have a dog that is capable, reliable, a joy to be around. Dogs should be enjoyable (even if they’re sometimes a challenge) so push. Push gently. Push inexorably. But push.