I was in Woodstock last Friday working with a new Home Dog Training client and his Blue Nose Pit Bull, Gretchen. Gretchen was a great dog, but was very excitable. This caused her to jump on people and she had difficulty giving the appropriate focus and respect to my client. After a few, short hours, Gretchen understood “the rules” and was on her way to being a great dog. As we were finishing up, my client asked me why I wasn’t scared when it came to training dogs like Gretchen. He told me that many of his neighbors always ran the other way when they saw he. He didn’t understand it because Gretchen had never bitten or chased anybody. People were just “afraid of her” because she was a Pit Bull.
I told my client that it is a fact of life that many people get preconceived notions about all sorts of things that cloud their objectivity and common sense. If we constantly hear that something is bad, even though we may have never experienced “that thing”, we often simply assume that something is bad. A word we often use for this is “propaganda”. We have allowed other people to create and inflict an opinion on us that we willingly accept.
I told my client that before I began training dogs, I had often watched news stories on TV that told of Pit Bulls killing people and being very dangerous. To be honest, the first time I was called to do a training with a Pit Bull, I was really scared. But, after I actually interacted with the dog, I began to understand that my preconceived notions could be wrong. It didn’t take too much longer after working with a few more Pit Bulls, that I figured out that they were naturally great and loving animals.
Training dogs is my job, so I had to go out to that first Pit Bull. I had to be put in a situation that challenged my preconceived notion based on “propaganda”. My own experiences allowed me to overcome what everyone was telling me. I saw just how great they were and I am really glad that I did.
People are often scared of Pit Bulls and other “big and scary dogs” such as American Bulldogs, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds because of what they have been told. They are not scared of them because of their own, observed conclusions.
I went on to say that many people simply will never like something. That is fine because they are perfectly in their own right to feel that way. We need to respect that. But, many people will also change their preconceived notions if presented with evidence that they may be wrong. Those are the people he can help educate regarding what a great “big and scary” dog Gretchen really is.
In having a “big and scary” dog, I told my client that it was his responsibility to assume people will be nervous and scared around her. I suggested that he observe the following so that he will be respectful of other people:
- Never let Gretchen off the leash when in the front yard. Even though she may not run off the property towards anybody, the simple view of a Pit Bull off leash can scare people.
- Never take Gretchen on leash to a place where it may be enclosed or there are crowds.
- Keep Gretchen in another room when people initially come over. He can bring her in later to greet them, but only on a leash.
- Never let Gretchen “run the fence”, barking at people passing by. This is a naturally “scary picture”.
- Never force Gretchen on anyone or anyone on Gretchen.
I explained that these actions are designed to help passively alleviate peoples’ often foolish and fearful thoughts about Gretchen. They are not meant as punishment because of anything Gretchen may have done.
The next thing he had to do was to actively let people understand that “Hey, Gretchen really is a nice dog”. This must be done passively and indirectly. I related a training program I created for a client over ten years ago. My prior client’s Pit Bull was experiencing extreme pensiveness brought on through a life of everyone being scared of him. The bottom line was that the Pit Bull was afraid of people being afraid of him.
The neighborhood had a small play area completely enclosed with a fence and secure gate. The play area was also right on the main road where everyone in the neighborhood would pass by.
I had my client take his Pit Bull to the play area when there were no other people there. I simply asked him to play with his dog and hang out. As people passed by on their bikes, in their cars, or on the sidewalk; they would see them playing. After a few days, the neighbors began to notice that the Pit Bull really was just like any other dog.
Within a week, my client had people coming over, asking if they could pet his Pit Bull. After a few more days, kids would come over, wanting to play with him. By the end of one month, the entire neighborhood loved his dog and his dog “loved being loved”.
My client said he knew of the perfect place to replicate what had happened with my prior client. There was a shuffle board court by the neighborhood recreation center. It was completely fenced in and nobody ever used it. He would start taking Gretchen there immediately.
Even though we know our dogs are great, other people may feel worried when they see or hear them. We must deal with these misconceptions to “create converts”.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Woodstock Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Woodstock Georgia.