The Challenge of Closed Minds in Dog Training: Embracing the Path to Truth

Truth or Tunnel Vision: Navigating Dog Training Challenges

May 29, 2024

In my journey as a dog owner coach, I’ve encountered a recurring theme that presents a unique challenge: closed-mindedness. It’s akin to a scene from “The Case for Christ” movie, where the pivotal question arises, “Do you really want to know the truth, or is your mind already made up?”


Picture this: During an initial consultation or meet-and-greet, I diligently gather information from the dog owner. Armed with insights, I engage in a dialogue, exploring possibilities and potential solutions. However, before the conversation even unfolds completely, I’m met with resistance. “Oh, no, that’s not it,” they assert, swiftly followed by justifications or excuses.

This scenario embodies a fundamental obstacle in dog training — the reluctance to entertain new perspectives or insights. It’s a roadblock rooted in preconceived notions, stubbornness, or perhaps fear of change. Whatever its origin, it poses a formidable challenge for both the trainer and the dog owner.


Frustration often accompanies encounters with closed minds. It’s disheartening to witness the potential for growth and improvement stifled by rigid thinking. As a coach committed to empowering dog owners, a hard lesson to learn is that if you want to avoid compassion fatigue and coaching frustration, you should not be more invested in the outcome than the dog owner.


In the realm of dog training, success is not merely defined by achieving desired behaviours in our dogs. It’s a multifaceted equation, intricately woven with variables that extend beyond the training session itself. Success in a dog training program is the culmination of what works for the dog, coupled with the owner’s commitment to follow through. Let’s delve deeper into these critical components:

  1. Understanding the Dog: Every dog is unique, with their own personality, temperament, and learning style. What works for one may not work for another. As trainers, it’s essential to tailor our approaches to suit the individual needs of each dog. Consider factors such as breed characteristics, age, past experiences, health conditions and even the best tool for the dog, not your ego or emotions. These variables play a significant role in shaping the training process and determining its effectiveness. Observing and interpreting canine body language is key to understanding their responses and adjusting our methods accordingly. Building trust and rapport forms the foundation for successful training outcomes.
  2. Aligning with Owner Commitment: The success of any training program hinges greatly on the owner’s willingness and ability to follow through with the prescribed strategies. It’s not enough to implement techniques during scheduled sessions; consistency and reinforcement at home are paramount. Assessing the owner’s lifestyle, schedule, and level of dedication helps tailor the training plan to fit seamlessly into their daily routine. Setting realistic expectations and goals fosters a sense of empowerment and motivation. Effective communication between trainer and owner is essential for clarity, accountability, and ongoing support. Providing guidance, resources, and encouragement empowers owners to take an active role in their dog’s development.
  3. Finding the Balance: Success in dog training lies at the intersection of what is effective for the dog and what the owner can sustainably implement. It’s a delicate balance that requires collaboration, flexibility, and empathy. Striking this balance involves continuous assessment and adaptation. As trainers, we must remain agile in our approaches, constantly refining our methods based on feedback and results. Recognizing and celebrating progress, however small. Encouraging a growth mindset fosters resilience and perseverance in the face of challenges.


In essence, the success of a dog training program is a dynamic interplay between what works for the dog and what the owner is committed to implementing. By understanding and navigating these key variables with compassion, expertise, and collaboration, we pave the way for meaningful transformation and harmonious relationships between dogs and their owners.

However, it starts by just thinking that maybe the professional you hired to help, might know a bit more because they are outside of the frame (its hard to see the picture when you are in the frame).

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