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Monday, October 6, 2008

Is the husband trainable?

Hi,
I took my dog to your obedience school years ago. It helped a lot. I recently got married, and my husband has a six-year-old Chihuahua that he's never trained. He never really walked this dog until I came along. He has basically let this dog train him. He says he has read on the internet that these dogs have an excessive amount of energy and are untrainable. My husband is very inconsistent with him. I've told him that when he walks his dog, he has to show who is in control. He uses a retractable leash and lets the dog run all over. Back and forth. It's annoying trying to walk with this dog running in front of me and almost tripping me. He takes off after people and other dogs and when he comes to the end of the leash he flips over and starts again. Any suggestions?
Thank you,
Karen

Karen,
If your husband is trainable, there's hope.

No breed of dog is "untrainable" unless it's mentally defective, and that's likely not the case. But your husband, not the dog, is the one who needs the education. He needs to learn how to be a leader. The dog will automatically and happily follow, obey, and respect whoever he perceives as the leader; that's a totally natural response. A dog who doesn't have a leader is a dog at great risk. It will disobey in dangerous situations. If the retractable leash ever breaks and the dog gets loose, it will probably end up dead--chomped by another dog, or run over by a car. Before that even happens, it could hurt itself by flipping around on the end of the leash...or it can hurt you by tripping you up and landing you in the hospital. There's nothing funny or cute about any dog that's out of control. It's actually very sad, especially since it's so INCREDIBLY EASY to fix.

Get your hubby a gift certificate for training classes, preferably at Manning Dog Training if you're still in Yakima. I started it may years ago, Jane Bumgardner now owns it, and she does RIGHT by you and your dog. If you're within 150 miles, you should still go there for at least a lesson, because "our" program is the best in the state. It's fast and it works, because it makes sense to the dog.

Don't try to coach your husband too much yourself, as he may be resistant to your advice. It's usually best to have an "outsider" teach your partner to train a dog, drive, shoot, play golf, or whatever. You might be saying exactly the same things to him that a professional trainer will say, but they'll sound different to him if he hears them from the trainer! Go figure. But I guess we're all like that!

Retractable leashes are counterproductive in situations like yours. In other words, they make the situation even worse than it already is. Try losing the leash for a few weeks, at least until you can get your husband into a class.

You now have a typical blended family, so it's critical that you get this situation worked out. The dogs should enrich your lives, not add strain and stress to your relationship with each other.
All the best,
Jan

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