Friday, 19 August 2022
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Ever wonder what’s on your trainer’s mind when you’re having a conversation with them? Are they judging you? Yes, but not for what you might think. Here’s a¬†glimpse into my biggest pet peeves¬†… not necessarily in order.


Relatives who call trainers on behalf of their family members
If one of your relatives is stressed out enough to contact a trainer on your behalf you might want to consider hiring one if they approach you to suggest it.

They’re¬†embarrassed¬†when the pet¬†misbehaves during a session.
Much¬†like your doctor expects to see¬†a runny nose¬†when you have a head cold, I¬†expect to¬†experience¬†jumping, growling, mounting, and other nuisance behaviors. While I’d never intentionally trigger an unwanted behavior, if it happens on its own then that’s a good thing.¬†It provides me a window in which to view exactly what’s¬†frustrating you.¬†This information helps me¬†to design a strategy to extinguish those behaviors.

Withholding that they hit their dog.
Much like a detective, I can tell if a dog was struck by the way it behaves. Hiding this from me is sort of like trying to hide an elephant in a cabbage patch. I understand it may have been your last resort, but be honest so I can help you.

Emulating techniques from an alpha-based training show.
These programs are highly edited and¬†many recommendations they suggest are psychologically and physiologically damaging. A¬†dominance-based mindset¬†often makes¬†owners feel as though they’re losing and¬†the pet is winning.¬†This serves to fuel¬†hostility toward the pet, making it quite tempting to use them. However, dominance- and alpha-based training styles can make¬†many behaviors worse and more¬†challenging to treat.

When groomers and vets dispenses poor training advice.
I’m sure¬†these individuals mean well, but if the person hasn’t received formal training in behavior it’s best to consult with a certified behavior expert or veterinary behaviorist. One¬†person told my client her dog’s separation anxiety was¬†fueled by spitefulness.

Separation anxiety is a phobia. Often it involves involuntary physiological  symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, diarrhea, extreme terror, and in rare cases even self-mutilation. No animal behaves this way out of spite. Thankfully, the owner reached out to me and I brought on a vet formally trained in behavioral issues for the help it needed.

Afraid to tell me their dog eats table scraps.
There’s nothing wrong with table scraps¬†as long as they’re healthy and the vet approves of the items. For a list of healthy and dangerous foods¬†click here.¬†

They’re¬†afraid to tell me they allow the dog on their bed.¬†
I think sleeping with your pet is a wonderful way to bond.¬†All of my pets are¬†welcome on¬†my furniture¬†— including my bed. It’s your house. You make the rules. However, if the pet displays behavioral issues¬†associated with these surfaces,¬†you might want to reconsider your household rules until you consult with a certified behavior professional.

Believe treats are unnecessary because the dog should work to please.
I like being told I did a great job as much as the next guy, but I also like  being paid for my job. For most dogs treats are the highest form of currency. Others might go bonkers over tennis balls or toys. The point is, use what motivates the dog.

Karen Fazio, CDBC is the owner of The Dog Super Nanny professional dog training and is the Director of Behavior at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital in Monmouth County, NJ. She may be reached at 732-533-9376 or


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