Those of us in the business of modern dog training and behavior modification are, by all accounts, a little nuts about dogs. It is not just a job but a way of life, and we continue to add to our education, discuss cases with each other for additional input, and sometimes spend sleepless nights worrying about our clients and their struggles.
There are lighter moments that come with this profession, however, and recently a group of my peers joined together to write up some of our favorite “you know you’re a dog trainer when” scenarios. These have all happened and represent what it’s like to walk in our shoes, or our spouse’s shoes, a bit.
You know you are a dog trainer when:
▪ Your family members have to ask, “Is this dog food or people food?”
▪ You have a variety of seemingly identical leashes, harnesses and other equipment, each with dedicated purposes.
▪ Your co-worker asks you for a pen and you reach into your pockets and pull out two clickers, a leash and some kibble, but no pen.
▪ You have a well-established training plan and reward hierarchy for potty training your human toddler.
▪ Your spouse can’t show you an animal video without getting a lecture on body language and behavior.
▪ Some random person thinks they are complimenting you by calling you a dog whisperer, and steam comes out of your ears while you try to judge if it is an appropriate moment for a doctoral-level dissertation on science-based animal training and the fallout of aversives.
▪ You think your door keys are in your pocket but it’s dog treats, and you’ve just locked yourself out of your house.
▪ The chances are greater that the Amazon delivery box at the front door contains something for your dog, rather than you.
▪ It’s normal to ask how the dog’s poop looks and send photos of said poop regularly.
▪ You have two peanut butter jars and one is labeled for the dog so there is no confusion amongst family members.
▪ You hear the word “alpha” and your spouse settles in while you take a deep breath and give the why-that-concept-has-been-refuted educational talk for the two hundredth time.
▪ Every piece of clothing you have is chosen for how many pockets it has to hold stuff.
▪ You do more meal prepping for your dog that you do for yourself.
▪ You are observed giving off calming signals when dealing with an angry person.
▪ You wash your clothes separately from the other family members because yours’ are always covered in fur.
▪ You accidentally “click” your boss at work when observing him placing his cup in the dishwasher.
▪ You have an even more awkward moment when said boss’s questioning gaze stops you from searching your pockets for an adequate reward to back up your marker signal.
▪ Your kids respond to both verbal cues and hand signals.
▪ You refer to your own stress level as the result of “trigger stacking.”
▪ You inadvertently blurt out a high pitched, “Good!”, aimed at your spouse, and they notice.
▪ Your family members are no longer surprised when you come home and say, “Don’t hug me, I was peed on”.
▪ Your 16-year-old ace’s his first Intro to psych class on the four quadrants of operant conditioning, arguing (successfully) with the teacher on the one question he got wrong. And when the teacher asks if he got that level of understanding from the book he says, “No, my mom’s a dog trainer!”
▪ Your 4-year-old hands you a box of Cheerios and says, “Train me Mommy!”
▪ You’re at dinner and the waitress says, “Stay right there,” and your first instinct is to freeze until given a release cue.
Lisa Moore’s pet-behavior column appears once a month on the Pet Page. Write to her in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.