I don’t know about others in the dog world, but I personally can find it a struggle when an entire training or behaviour modification plan (for ease of writing I’ll be referring to both under the heading of ‘training plans’) need changing. However, it’s important to realise that it’s not a failure if you have to change a training plan. Theory is theory, it’s great but without effective application it’s pretty useless. Even with all of the best intentions sometimes a training plan just doesn’t work for an individual dog. That’s okay! The method your dog might need may not be your favourite method but working with dogs is a two-way relationship and it needs compromise. Even with loads of experience with a number of dogs, you can create a training plan that you think will be the most effective for that dog and you get it wrong. That’s okay too! That’s why (good) trainers continually learn and will have a number of ways to achieve the same goal in order to personalise a training plan for you and your dog.
It’s also really important to realise that dogs don’t read the textbooks. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read a book and gone ‘Finally! I’ve got the answer to all of Timon/Pumba’s problems. I can’t wait to go out and train all of this” only for it to be a flop and it turns out that wasn’t even remotely the right answer for the problem I thought I had. There will never be a universal answer for any one problem and the ability to adapt and adjust to the needs of your dog is what makes an effective handler.
If your trainer sets you a training plan that you think isn’t working for your dog (or you!) then tell them and they should first check that you’re carrying out the training plan correctly or that the plan is feasible for you as there’s no point recommending interventions that you never have the time to implement. If there are no issues with correct application or feasibility, then they should adapt the plan. If they don’t then it’s probably time to try a different trainer who aligns with your ethics and is willing to listen to what has been attempted already.
How do you feeling about changing training plans? Has changing a training plan ever hugely changed the progress you were seeing with your dog? Let me know in the comments!