Is Your Dog A “Situational Extrovert?”

I get a lot of emails like this one:

“Eric, I want to be a dog trainer. I really HATE people and would love to work with dogs. How do I become a dog trainer?”

My answer often surprises them. This is what they get as a response:

“Thanks for your email. I would strongly, strongly suggest you find another profession. Dog trainers spend more of their time training people than dogs. Success in this profession has more to do with how you deal with people than their dogs.”

Most do not like this advice.

It’s funny to me because I know it’s cool to talk about how much people suck but I really feel differently about this.

I find people interesting and it’s one of the reasons I love my profession. I get to meet great dogs and their owners.

A few years back I met Dr. Ivan Misner. He is a New York Times best selling author and founder of Business Network International. During a talk he was giving he discussed “Situational Extroverts.”

I thought this was very interesting because he states that situational extroverts are kind of on the shy side and get a little nervous in groups of people. They need a little time alone to recharge unlike a true extrovert that needs a room full of people and activity to recharge.

This explained me perfectly. Even though I enjoy meeting new people and can handle public speaking without vomiting, I am really a situational extrovert.

While working with a dog the other day I was wondering about this. This dog was off leash playing with four other dogs and was fine. He would play and romp and was completely friendly.

Then he became a different dog with one small change.

As soon as he was on leash he became a different dog. Aggressive, barking and ready to rumble with any dog that came within two feet of him, even the same dogs he was just playing with.

This is actually pretty common and it has to do with fight or flight. When the dog is off leash the situation is not scary to the dog because he feels in control.

On leash the dog feels he is no longer in control and acts aggressive to try to take charge of the situation.

Leashes can make everything a little tricky with dogs because of fight or flight. Socialization, positive interaction with other dogs and getting rid of choke and prong collars will help your dog.

All the stuff I go over and explain in detail in our classes.

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