Working with animals has been a pleasure and a privilege for me for many years. I have been blessed with a large variety of animals that have come to me for help…
- feral cats and kittens, skunks, rabbits, crows and other birds, racoons, foxes, coyotes, chickens, dogs, horses, and many more.
Ever since I was a child, I knew that I loved animals and they loved me back. Talking to, or being with animals has always been “natural” for me and I thought everyone who loved animals was the same.
I have since learned that just because you love animals, doesn’t mean that you are a “natural” with animals.
But I have learned that if you have a true heart-felt love for animals, you can learn how to talk to them and be “natural” around them.
Loving animals is the first and most important thing you need to have in order to be good with animals.
However, you do need more than just love to train an animal. But I do feel that without that deep love, training can’t be done properly.
I was recently reminded of this with my dog Arlo.
Arlo is almost a year old now, 10 months old. I rescued him from a kill shelter when he was 2 months old.
Luckily, when I got him, he didn’t have any bad habits. And he has been a real pleasure to train, as he is so smart and willing to please. He loves to work with me and he loves his training.
This is what he has learned:
- He has learned to sit, lay down, roll over, stand up, shake, come, wait and stay on command.
- While walking on a leash he has learned to heal, slow down, walk without pulling, leave it when he sees a squirrel, sit right next to me when a person or a car comes close, and he doesn’t run off or bark when he sees another dog.
- He loves to go for walks and he comes over and sits quietly while I put the leash on him.
- He can be loose in the front yard without a fence to run and play, he stays in the yard and comes immediately when called, sits and stays on command no matter who is walking by, and is very attentive.
- In the house he has learned to stay out of the kitchen when I’m cooking, lays down next to me when I sit, doesn’t get on the furniture, sleeps on his dog bed at night, and is very polite and well-mannered.
- He also doesn’t bark unless a stranger is coming to the house that he doesn’t trust.
- He even gets along really well with my two cats and on occasion sleeps with them.
He’s a great dog and has been a dream to train.
Recently I went on vacation for two weeks and one of my neighbors volunteered to watch Arlo at her house while we were away. I thought that would be great as she has two Burmese Mountain dogs that really like Arlo and they all get along really well. Plus, she is someone that said she has a lot of experience with dogs and is a dog groomer.
I was right, they all got along great during the two weeks. My neighbor even joked around that he fit in so well that he might not want to come back home since he loved being with the other two dogs and they played all the time.
Well, when Arlo got back home, he slept for an entire day. I think he was really happy to be home, alone, and to have some down time. The other two big dogs are twice his size and they are a few years older.
When we got home, the neighbor said that she was shocked at how well-mannered Arlo was, especially for being a puppy.
It wasn’t until he had been home a few days that I noticed a big difference in his manners.
Arlo was now NOT listening to any of the verbal and non-verbal cues and commands.
- He was jumping up on the furniture.
- He started barking to get his way.
- He jumped up on the kitchen counter and stole food right off the counter.
- He jumped on my bed and fought me when I told him to get down to sleep on his bed.
- He started chasing the cats around the house.
- He started chasing the squirrels and the birds in the backyard.
- He started running across the front yard, into the street, and into other neighbors’ yards without listening to
me telling him to come back.
- He started chewing on the rugs and pillows.
- He was now nipping at me when I tried to put a leash on him.
- He now pulled on the leash, wouldn’t listen, and was a handful while walking him.
He was a totally different dog!
After two weeks with another person who not only loved dogs, has dogs, but also someone who says she knows a lot about dogs, my training was ruined!
When I went by to visit the neighbor afterwards, I saw how her dogs acted at her house. Then I realized that Arlo learned all his new bad habits from her dogs. They had taught him how to be in charge of “his humans” and how to intimidate them.
I knew he was a fast learner. But, it was interesting to see what the other dogs had taught him in just two weeks.
Her dogs “ruled the roost” and did what they wanted, when they wanted, and pushed and bit and barked to get their way. To her that was normal, and she knew that her dogs were unruly, but she was ok with that.
She even told me when I visited that “she hoped that Arlo hadn’t learned any of her dogs’ bad habits”.
Well, he did!
Luckily, after two more weeks of re-training, Arlo is back to his well-mannered self and happy being at home again.
I’ve seen this happen with horses too.
- I’ve seen people send their horses away to get trained and when they come back home, they seem better, but then they go back to their old bad habits after time with their owner.
- I’ve seen people train their horses for a show, allow someone else to ride their horse once or twice, and then the horse conveniently forgot some or all of his training.
- I’ve seen well trained horses who were sold, pick up bad habits with their new owner.
In my opinion, this is because the right pieces weren’t put together in the right order.
Horses definitely learn from other horses, just as Arlo learned from these two dogs. Sometimes I think they learn bad habits faster than they learn good habits.
Just kidding, but horses definitely learn quickly from other horses.
Here are my top 5 tips to training your horse (which works on dogs too):
- The most important and first step to training your horse is definitely to have a heart-felt love for your horse.
- The second thing is to have a specific goal or desire that you want to achieve. Have a purpose.
- The next important step for training is to want to achieve these results WITH your horse, not TO your horse or FOR your horse.
- Be patient, kind, and flexible. Work within the limitations and desires of your horse and work together as a team. Be your horse’s partner.
- Be interactive. No matter who you ‘follow’, work with, or have train your horse – work with them and be an active part of the training.
You and only you can gain the trust, connection, and the love of your horse. These things are not ‘transferable’.
You can learn to be a “natural” with your horse!
Just like horses learn from other horses, you can learn to be a trainer, from another trainer.
Even if you aren’t a “trainer” in your own mind or you don’t feel like you’re a “natural”, you can accomplish both of these if you desire.
I have some self-study programs for beginners, intermediate, and advanced horse women in which you can do the training yourself.
These self-study programs will help you on your way to becoming a stronger, more confident horse trainer and/or they will teach you personally how to understand your own horse better to get the results you want.
But you’re not alone. If there are any questions, I’m available to help. I’m just a phone call or an email away.
And if you want more personal private coaching and want someone in your corner the whole way, then I have that available too for any level of horsemanship as well.
I wish I had something and someone like this when I was learning. That’s why I designed my programs the way I did. And because I know how much I could have used this to save me years of learning the hard way, I’m offering these courses to you at very affordable prices.
I’m always here to help you and your horse in any way I can. Here’s a way to contact me if you’d like to chat and find out how to reach your dream goals with your horse.