It didn't take long for people in my new hometown to find out I knew something about dogs. This past week our phone has rung several times with "dog problems" on the other end of the line. It doesn't matter whether it's Yakima, WA, Thompson Falls, MT, or Kyoto, Japan...people all have the same problems with their dogs. An elderly lady on a "limited budget" called me for help with her 10-month-old Boston Terrier who was out of control.
"What do you charge to train a dog?" she asked.
I explained that I was retired, but would help her if I could. "Normally I charge $50," I said hesitantly. (It was a lie. The price in Yakima was $75 for a 90-minute in-home lesson...and it was a bargain at that price.)
She gasped. "Oh, my, I can't afford that."
"Could you manage $40?" I conceded.
"No, I just can't. Not right now. Oh dear, what shall I do?"
Let me explain that Sanders County, MT, where we now live, is an impoverished area. Although the cost of living is the same as Yakima, incomes are considerably lower. You pretty much have to be self sufficient, retired, or willing to live a fairly austere life if you want to make this your home, beautiful as it is. So I believed this lady when she said she couldn't afford it.
I gave her the most basic advice I could....put a drag leash on the dog. Beyond that, it's hard to explain over the phone how to adjust a dog's attitude (which is all that's needed in this case). I'll probably end up driving way out to her house and helping her, whether she can reimburse me for gas or not, because I feel a moral obligation to help her. I just don't want to be doing it all the time. That's why Don and I retired from our businesses.
Which brings me to YOU! There is someone in your circle of friends, relatives, or coworkers who needs dog-training help and advice from someone knowledgeable about dog behavior. That's YOU. Please offer your services whenever you can. Help them explain WHY their dogs are doing what they're doing, and give them some simple pointers on how to manage various situations with their difficult dogs. If nothing else, give them the phone number for a trainer that you know and trust to help them. Just don't let them flounder in "Complaint Land," where people complain about their dogs' behaviors but take no action to change them. In "Complaint Land," people actually learn to accept their dogs' inappropriate actions, and they feel helpless to affect changes. They accept the STATUS QUO, and in so doing, shortchange both themselves AND their dogs from experiencing wonderful, stress-free relationships.
Knowledge is to be shared. If you have learned valuable tips at Manning Dog Training, for instance, share what you have learned with your dog-challenged friends. Don't worry if you don't get it all right, or if you leave out a few parts. Just offer them support, gentle guidance, and inspiration...from one enlightened dog owner to another. SET AN EXAMPLE.
Even with your help, there will still be plenty of dog-training business to keep all the professionals busy. Believe me, we feel badly when we can't physically help everyone who needs the help. So we would LOVE it--and feel honored--if our students (and former students) step up to the plate and share the message of "how to be a good leader" with their dog-owning friends! Thanks!!