Learning To Work Together… For The Dog’s Sake

I am by no means an expert on people. My specialty is of the four-legged kind. However, my job is to train people to train their dogs, so I do know a little about what makes people tick. Throughout the years, I have met a lot of feuding couples, people who just couldn’t see eye to eye about their dogs. Either they couldn’t agree on what the problem was or they just couldn’t find a solution that worked for both of them. As of recent, it seems I’ve been meeting more and more couples with similar issues.

I’m here to offer some thoughts, perhaps not so much as a dog trainer, but rather as one half of a couple with a dog.  If you ask my boyfriend, he’d probably tell you that when we first adopted Lucy, I was a “back seat dog trainer”. This is a term I came up with for people who couldn’t stand idly by watching their partners train the wrong way (or just not their way) and so would either provide side line commentaries the entire time or worse, insist on stepping in and taking control.

Years later, I’ve learned to comprmise. It took a long time for me to let go of the fact that he wasn’t doing things the way I did them, but it didn’t mean that he was doing things wrong. I know that all of us dog trainers speak about the importance of consistency when training dogs, so what happens when you and your partner can’t get on the same page and therefore can’t be consistent with your dog?

Here are some questions that I think are worth exploring with your partner if you find yourself in such a predicament:

  • Which of your dog’s issues do you want to resolve?
  • Do you agree that your dog has the same issues? If not, can you see where the other person is coming from?
  • Are these issues severe and affect your quality of life or are you just wanting to make a great dog even better?
  • What are the possible solutions to your dog’s issues?
  • Can you agree on a training plan or realistically, do you have to compromise?
  • How important are attaining your goals with your dog versus keeping your relationship with your partner healthy?

I think the biggest one for me was the question of whether I’d rather have a perfect dog (in my eyes) or have a happy relationship. Lucy is great the way she is. She can always be better, but not at the cost of creating discord between me and my other half. I’m okay with that. Besides, we all know perfect dogs don’t really exist.


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