I Need a Guarantee

refugees-1015309_1280Today I got a voicemail message from a potential client that told me I needed to respond ASAP. When I get on the phone I realize that indeed this is kind of an emergency.

Apparently this dog has been living with little to no supervision since she was a young dog. The dog is now 4 years old. Her dog roams the neighborhood or takes off after wildlife on a regular basis. Today, though things got even more complicated.

She ran after a small dog after spotting it at a distance, bit the little guy so hard they are not sure whether the dog will survive. As I am gathering information about what other kinds of trouble the dog has gotten into, I learned that the dog chases big game and has even killed a cat.

After this last incident the owner is deeply concerned that she might have to let go of her dog. She has called me to get some information. One of those… what will it take to fix the problem? And of course, the owner looking for a guarantee.

She asks me point blank if I can guarantee that her dog will stop chasing wildlife and killing cats as a result of training. I tell her clearly that no, I cannot make any guarantees about behavior. In addition I say, if someone tells you that they guarantee your dog’s behavior they are either lying or clearly do not understand how behavior and behavior modification works! Period.

Same situation with people interested in having me teach their dogs to avoid snakes. I realize we all want guarantees: Guarantee that a product will deliver, the pants will fit well, the diet pill will make us lose weight and on and on. The thing is that while some services can be guaranteed, I think we should expect some sort of guarantee as to the professional we work with knowing what he/she is doing, that she or he will comport in a professional manner and as such, is not over selling or misrepresenting a product or a service. All these stipulations should also be expected from animal trainers, but that is different than expecting a guarantee on the
actual results of the training.

Think about this, doctors are also asked if such and such procedure, medication, etc. can guarantee the person will get better or even live, but seldom (if at all) are these
guarantees given. Behavior is very similar to medical interventions: Too many variables and most of them out of our ability to change or influence. As a matter of fact, as part of my national certification as a Professional Dog Trainer, I cannot give any guarantees for services provided.

Now, what I can say is that when we consistently and with understanding on how to proceed work on teaching our dogs something, the probabilities of us witnessing the desired behavior really increases. I don’t know of a percentage for a success rate, again too many variables.

However, if you think about it, even if the chances are 50% or (more) of reaching success I think it is worth putting in the effort and resources in reaching our goals.