All dog trainers have been there, the dreaded moment when dog training turns into marriage counseling. Often when a dog is just not succeeding at home, inconsistency is the culprit. When one spouse isn’t on board with the training, it undermines the efforts the other is putting in. And sometimes this can turn into a self-perpetuating issue, while the committed spouse fails due to the other’s lack of involvement or outright contradictions, it justifies the behavior, “see, I told you it wouldn’t work.” “I was right,” is the bottom line, but ultimately the dog suffers.
This inconsistency can range from one spouse not participating to spouses who use different methods, different command words, or hand signals—the dog gets confused, frustrated, and pretty soon shuts down and tunes both people out. These household conflicts in training can also manifest in a spouse who encourages bad behavior, or who does not see a behavior as a problem. I can’t tell you the number of times one spouse is on board with crate training while the other finds it cruel, or one person in the household allows the dogs to jump all over the couch, while the other is trying their best to follow Nothing in Life is Free protocol.
Sometimes people are set in their ways or may feel that because they could not train the dog, the dog must be "untrainable." To have a trainer come in could feel like a direct threat to their authority. In this case, the members of the household are clearly not on the same page. Before calling a trainer to come out, make sure you and your spouse agree on training the dog and want the same outcome. If you can’t see eye to eye, it will make it very difficult to accomplish anything with the dog and puts the trainer in a hard position. Don’t rely on the trainer to fight your battles for you!
This is why we always try to schedule our appointments with everyone in the household present, to make sure everyone can agree on goals and methods, and so everyone can practice at the same time to ensure consistency. Your dog doesn’t have to be a source of conflict for you and your spouse. Have the conversation, set goals, and support each other while training your pet. If you can't support each other and agree on what behaviors you'd like to accomplish with your pet, there may be bigger issues in your household than just dog training. Your dog will notice the difference when everyone in the household is working towards the same thing, and will thank you for the clarity.