What Training Can and Cannot Produce: A Tale of Cookies and Coleslaw

by Camilla Gray-Nelson


professional dog training - photo of dog in kitchen


As much as dog owners hope that their trainer is like a master chef that can transform their aggressive dog into a social one, or their cat chaser into a cuddling kitty lover…generally speaking it’s not going to happen.  No matter how talented your trainer is, they cannot take the raw ingredients for coleslaw and produce a chocolate chip cookie!

If you have the raw ingredients of cabbage, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and maybe a little mayo and a few other condiments, there’s no way that anyone can make a chocolate chip cookie out of that, no matter how good a cook they are.  Or vice versa.  If your dog is coded by his DNA to be prey-driven, territorial or willful, no amount of training can turn him into Lassie.  That said, however, just as a gourmet cook can take those raw ingredients for coleslaw and make a jaw-dropping, lick-the-plate version that would have brought even Julia Child to her knees, so can a good trainer make the very best out of the dog you have.  But they can’t make your coleslaw dog into a chocolate chip canine.

If you already have a dog and need to improve his behavior, keep your expectations realistic.  Your cat or livestock chaser (his raw ingredients) will always be driven to chase if left on his own.  Instinct will not be denied.  Professional dog training can help you control the dog’s instincts when you are there to control them, making the best of his raw ingredients.  But left alone…your dog’s raw ingredients (his instincts) will always determine the end product.  If he’s made up of coleslaw raw ingredients, you’ll never end up that cookie you might be craving.  Your choice, however, is between gourmet, mouth-watering coleslaw (with good training), or disgusting, inedible slop that stinks up the kitchen and that no one wants to be around.  But even though a coleslaw dog will never be a cookie, you can still enjoy his fabulous coleslaw-ness with just a few good training choices!

Now, if you don’t like coleslaw, realize this when you are shopping for a dog in the first place.  Know what you want and shop accordingly.  The raw ingredients generally show themselves if you are paying attention.  If you want a dog that is good with your cats– don’t choose a breed that was bred to chase and kill small, furry vermin — thinking that training will transform it!  If you want a dog to take to work with you and greet clients every day, or if you live in a home like Grand Central Station with a revolving door of family and new acquaintances, don’t choose a shy dog or a breed that was bred to protect his territory*.  If you are planning a family, look for a dog who’s got the raw ingredient of tolerance.  They’ll need it with kids and you can’t teach tolerance!  Training can teach the mechanics of sit, stay in your bed, come, don’t jump or don’t pull on the leash…but it cannot teach a dog how to feel about things in his world.  Being afraid of strangers, disliking other dogs, being irritated by children…those are part of the dog himself and training cannot erase them.

Are there chocolate chip dogs around?  Sure there are!  Lots of dogs are friendly, social, willing and eager to please.  Even so, those raw ingredients need to be put together correctly and baked carefully (through good training), or even they will leave a bad taste in your mouth.  The good news is that those raw materials really can be a chocolate chip cookie!   Of course, in my training business, I see more coleslaw than chocolate chips…

To summarize: DNA determines your ultimate dog and training can’t really change what DNA has created.

What CAN professional dog training do?  Well, let me tell you!  It can create an incredible bond of trust and loyalty between your dog and yourself – a bond so close you’ll feel you can read each other’s thoughts.   It can produce reliable obedience, even under distraction – a oneness that comes from this partnership.  It can create a sense of peace and well-being in your dog, with him knowing that you are the competent leader of the household and he can put his trust in you.  Most importantly, it can help each dog reach his full potential – whatever that is.  He can either become the most delicious, mouth-watering coleslaw known to man…or the penultimate chocolate chip cookie, worthy of foodie fame.  And both are great.

Trainers nationwide await to help put YOUR dog’s raw ingredients in their best possible order!

*see blogpost: “Breed Differences” on www.dogtalkdiva.com

About Camilla Gray-Nelson

When I started training dogs professionally, it was women who sought out my help. Responsibility for the family dog typically falls to them, after all. Their homes were in chaos; they were yelling at their dogs – and their kids – and couldn’t control either one. The life skills of personal power that I learned as a child (and assumed everyone else had, too), turned out to be rare among my clients. Since that time, it has been my personal goal to share Nature’s message of quiet power with women (and men) everywhere to help them become more effective not only with their dogs, but in their greater lives as well.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tim Ronny Thingberg November 4, 2016 at 7:15 am

I am from Norway so please forgive me my bad English.
I have 5 years of studying dog psykologi.
And passed all tests and exams.
So I am an ekspert dog psykologi trainer or master as we call it.
Thank you for a good site to follow!!
Tim Ronny

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