This trainer explains why it’s important to acknowledge that your dog isn’t perfect

Happy Labrador with tongue hanging out
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Your dog is perfect, right? 

We all like to think that our pups are perfect, and of course we love them for who they are, but one expert trainer has suggested that maybe it’s okay to realize that our dogs might not be total saints – and that’s fine.

In a recent Instagram post, Carolyn Martell, the founder of Good Dog Training, has shared why it’s important to “see your dog for who they are,” and it’s certainly given us some food for thought. And, of course, even if your dog isn’t totally perfect, they still deserve some of the best dog treats from time to time!

“I think dogs are individuals with a wide variety of different personality traits,” explains Martell. “They are incredibly clever and resilient and are very capable of being manipulative and stubborn - and that’s a good thing!”

When it comes to stubbornness, Martell brings up the example of a dog who loses a ball under the couch and is determined to get it back – which she describes as actually being a great trait in working dogs. 

Likewise, she suggests that dogs can be manipulative, too, using her own dogs as an example. “I’ve watched Olive intentionally set traps for the other dogs,” she says. “Just recently, she wanted Oak’s spot on the couch, so she went under the couch to grab his tennis ball, set it down across the room, and sat and waited. The second he went to get it, she took his spot.”

She also says that dogs can be rude – giving the example of a dog pushing up into another dog’s space – or mean – injuring each other without provocation, but that this is no excuse for aversive training (here’s how to spot dog trainer red flags for more information!)

And likewise, she says that dogs can be dominant or spoiled. She explains, “Dominance isn’t the problem people think it is, but it does exist and dogs can be dominant. It’s not a big deal.”

As for being spoiled, Martell outlines the difference between letting your dog on the couch, for example, and catering to your dog’s every whim and letting them have tantrums until you give in, with the former not spoiling your dog but the latter spoiling them. 

“Dogs can have “negative” traits,” she sums up. “Does it somehow make dogs “less than” if we can acknowledge that they can be stubborn and rude, manipulative and mean? No.” 

And she says that, even if they are, it’s not a reason to excuse aversive training methods. However, if you aren’t happy with your dog’s behavior, you might find this article useful: How to deal with a badly behaved dog

Frisco Bento Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy 
$18.65 at Chewy

Frisco Bento Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy
$18.65 at Chewy
Offering a moderate level of difficulty, this problem-solving game features sliding pieces and nooks where you can hide small treats or kibble. Suitable for all breeds, it's a great way to provide your pup with some mental stimulation. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.