For nearly two decades now, not a week goes by where I am asked to help with a husbands behavior. And my answer has always been, I don’t train husbands. For a good reason, but I’ll get to that in a minute!
My training business is surprisingly more men then women. I never really took note of that until Tawzer Dog came to film some of my workshops and commented on how many men attended my events. You see in the dog educational world, especially when you get into reward based training, it is usually the opposite, in fact totally lopsided with more women then men.
When I have men sign up for class, it is always because it is their dog. The man chose the breed, for a specific reason, and wants the dog trained the way he wants it trained. Whether he is single, in a relationship, or married, I have never ever heard one of my male clients say, could you talk with my girlfriend/wife/partner to see if she will stop xyz with my dog? Ever, never, zilch … doesn’t happen.
When I have women sign up for class, it is 50/50. This means that 50% of the time the woman wanted the dog, chose the breed, knows what she wants to do with her dog, and how she wants to train her dog. The other 50% tends to be a bit of a crap shoot.
Whether the husband chose the dog and found out he really didn’t have the time, or he tends to interact permissively with the dog causing behavioral problems, or he is just super busy, now the woman is saddled with a dog she didn’t really want, and herein lies the real problem. Some women never intended on having a dog to begin with and now they are the only one who is willing to step up and do the right thing.
Stepping up is management, nourishing, nurturing, exercise, social activities, and education, as in training. This is a lot to take on especially if you weren’t prepared for this to be your role. But when stepping up in a household is met with little to no compliance, cooperation, or understanding, well, these are the stories I hear, daily, weekly, and now for two decades.
So, back to why I don’t train husbands. Bottom line, puppies are way easier, but the real reason is, I don’t want to do human relationship work, that isn’t my specialty. My specialty is working with the human/animal bond.
But, but, but, within human relationships there sometimes is an animal involved that isn’t doing well because of the aforementioned problems of no compliance, cooperation, and understanding in the household.
When the woman of the household shows up to my class, exasperated, truly trying to smooth things out with their dog, trying to do the right thing, but feeling sabotaged by the very person she chose to spend her life with, well this is something I can help with, but I am very clear that I don’t train husbands!
FIRST it is a paradigm shift, the woman of the household must commit to being the real and proper owner of the dog, emotionally and physically, for everything. Entering an agreement to care for another tends to be fairly binding. No wavering, no wishy-washy bullshit, this is now MY DOG!
For example, 100% of all of the dogs in our home are mine, same goes for the ducks, quail, and goats. I take that responsibility, and if I need help I ask, but their care and well-being lay in my hands, and of course heart.
SECOND it is a letting go of what doesn’t work, and what isn’t productive. This is usually letting go of blame, hard feelings, and feeling like a victim. The woman of the household is entering into an agreement that will be filled with love with another living being, no baggage necessary.
THIRD, and this is super important, just create one rule for the household in regards to the dog. While there are really about 359 rules you need in order to be a super successful household, start with just one, this helps with compliance.
For example, in my busy household safety is super important to me, so my one rule that I started with all these years ago was SHUT THE FUCKING GATES. After all a rule is a rule, it isn’t a kind-of, sort-of, maybe thing. A rule by definition is something that you are allowed to do or not allowed to do. I have found that a rule should be simple, direct, and leave no room for misinterpretation.
FOURTH, once the household starts to smooth out and there is a rhythm of sorts, which can take months or years, and let that be okay by the way, and there is cooperation with the one rule, then and only then can some of the nurturing chores be delegated. Whether it is cleaning up the yard, or cleaning up the house, that is for the dogs owner to decide.
For example, in my busy household I take care of all of my dogs training, their food, health, care, socializing, and exercise. My husband takes care of cleaning up the yards, preparing our dogs dinner with the food I purchased, and taking them out for their evening exercise before they go to bed.
If he is gone for work or not well, and the same goes for me, we fill in for each other. Did this happen over night? No, it did not. We have been at this for twenty-five years, but after twenty-five years, if I am the one who will be gone, he always says, we will be fine, I will take good care of the dogs, and I will remember to SHUT THE FUCKING GATES.
Remember the one rule, it sticks I promise you!
Will everything turn out perfect? I doubt it, husbands are hard to train. But I can tell you it will be better, it will for sure be better, but you have to own it, the relationship with your dog.
xoxo – Nancy