I find this man's content so incredibly valuable I felt I needed to start a "Sean O'shea posts" collection, just in case facebook crashes and I loose all that valuable knowledge :-) Every time I read some of his stuff I feel like, after all these years, I still don't know anything about dog training, and I become a student all over again.
Here is his facebook profile if you want to follow him directly.
And here is his website if you want to support him financially;
If not, here are some very powerful and literally life changing (if you're a dog owner) posts by one of the most inspirational, truthful, accurate, and most real dog trainers I have ever come across.
24 July 2023
WARNING: transparency, uncomfortable truths, hard-won wisdom, and many other breakthrough concepts many others simply won’t tell you.
The dog training world would much rather feed you a never ending diet of fancy sounding and emotionally comfortable protocols and techniques than they would simply tell you the truth. Reasons: either they don’t know the truth, they don’t like the truth, or they are afraid that sharing the truth will harm their reputations/business.
Regardless of the why, this lack of truth sharing is why so many owners are struggling and will continue to struggle. When the truth is unwelcome struggle takes its place.
In this clip I’m talking to a client who is doing a follow-up session with their reactive/redirecting dog. This dog gets worked up on walks, and then bites her owner—and it’s happened many times. This is why the language choices (“Nail her” etc.) are so firm—it’s by design, because this owner needed to understand the way social/relationship dynamics are created…and he needed zero sugar coating or punches pulled.
Me and the entire team could and did walk this dog anywhere and not get the reactivity or the redirecting. Why? Not because our timing is so precise, or our mechanics with the tools are so immaculate. It’s because the social/relationship dynamics were healthy, and so the dog made different choices with us than with her owner. But no one wants to talk about respect, a healthy fear, and how these impact the association your dog has with you (the way they feel in your presence), and what choices this association/feeling will cause them to make.
This isn’t a bad or dangerous dog, in fact it’s a rather easy dog in many ways—unless she perceives you in an unhealthy way. This is the same kind of situation so many of you are dealing with out there. And it’s the situation I was in myself, until I got “it” and made the changes in myself and then, with much work, convinced my terribly reactive dogs to buy-in to the new me and get it as well. After that, we never had a reactivity issue again…regardless of the craziness of the situation. Interesting.
So, we can dance around the truth and continue to struggle, or we can embrace the truth—as uncomfortable as it might be—and find solutions. Knowing that myself or my team could take just about any reactive dog that any of you are struggling with and in a few walks have zero issues is a painful thing to know and watch others struggle with because they don’t.
23 July 2023
This, probably more than anything else, is what’s at the core of most human/dog issues.
We tend to view love as giving our dogs whatever they want/desire, and hope (or expect) that that will translate to our dogs feeling loved, safe, and happy. Sadly, these good intentions typically cause our dogs to become ill-behaved bullies, chaotic wrecks, and even neurotic basket cases.
Not a very loving outcome.
Dogs, like human children, don’t flourish from getting everything they request or desire, and from pushing rules and not receiving adequate pushback. They feel unsafe (because no one is in charge), they develop anti-social behavior (because no one has enforced pro-social behavior), and they end up suffering for our skewed take on “love” (choose your behavior issue and/or neurosis).
Truth is, some owners (parents) don’t know any better, and some do but it find it too much work, and others find the personal rewards of witnessing the momentary “joy” which comes from allowance/enabling too irresistible to resist.
If you’re experiencing issues with your dog, perhaps it’s time to more deeply examine how you view love.
PS, for all those who will feel the need to tell me they spoil their dogs and have no issues, please be aware that there are always exceptions—dogs who you can get away with all manner of nonsense with, with little to no fallout, which I’m well aware of—and that the generalized assessment I’m making isn’t about you and your exception…it’s about the majority of non-exceptions who are struggling and suffering. Try to bear that in mind prior to feeling the need to let the world know how happy, healthy, and amazingly well-behaved your spoiled dog is.
17 July 2023
When our dogs fill emotional gaps within us, gaps that should be filled by other things (family, friends, romantic relationships, self-love, self-care etc.) we find ourselves unable to provide for them what they truly need.
And it’s not for a lack of information, resources, or effective approaches — no, it’s the lack of willingness to search them out.
Because when your dog is everything, the most difficult thing to explore is anything which might make them “unhappy” or uncomfortable. Even if in the long run the exploration would create exactly what you DO want: happy, comfortable dogs.
How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I’ve done all the stuff my clients have. I’ve created the mess and have had to deal with the consequences of it. But I’ve also found my way out...
How did I get there? Honesty. Honesty with myself, and all I was unintentionally creating in my world. So I made a promise to myself and my dogs. I’d fix me — as best I could — so I could fix them. Of course, there is no fix, just progress, but that’s good enough.
After years of therapy, self-help study, and an obsessive drive to make my “mess” better, I did. While still a work in progress, I kept my promise to my dogs and myself. I shifted from leaning on them to leading them. I gifted them with a human who put their true “happiness” and comfort above his own needs. And what transpired was something close to a miracle.
Different me, different dogs.
Did I use the tools and the training and all the resources? You bet. It wasn’t simply a “change your mindset and your dogs are all better” feel good, new-age approach. But the mindset shift WAS the gateway to begin looking for what was missing, to begin searching out, and to begin putting in the hard work to create the changes I desired.
The upshot: as long as you’re broken, the chances of you having healthy, un-broken dogs are just about zero. But if you’re willing to be honest with yourself, and willing to do the uncomfortable work, the chances of massively turning things around are...enormous.
11 July 2023
Omitting negative consequences for small “moments” are tacit green lights that down the line lead to far bigger, and more dangerous “moments”.
Most poor behavior is trained by omission, not commission. Which means most dysfunctional relationships between dogs and humans are the byproduct of what you didn’t do, rather than what you did.
If your trainer is good, they’ll see all those small moments for exactly what they are: enormous, breakthrough, leverage points where healthy relationships, good or bad behavior, and respectful attitudes—are created or not.
Remember, nothing spells “doormat” like countless small moments of poor behavior allowed. Knowing that, we shouldn’t be surprised when our dogs treat us precisely as we’ve “trained” them to
4 July 2023
There’s a strange asymmetry I see over and over: Dogs engaging in all manner of poor behavior—from the annoying to the truly dangerous—and owners who are more concerned about hurting the dog’s feelings, or making them sad, than they are with ensuring that they the owners aren’t compromised, saddened, stressed, anxious, or even injured. It’s a strange, dysfunctional, and unhealthy world where we as owners place ourselves so low on the priority list, and our dogs so high.
Is there much difference between dysfunctional, unhealthy, abusive human-human relationships? Of course many of the dynamics are different, but far too many are the same. The allowances, the excuses, the rationalizations, the justifications. At the end of the day it still comes down to allowing others to compromise you because you’re not willing to stand up for yourself, value yourself, and draw the line. And while it’s definitely more complicated with human-human dynamics, that should be good news for sorting the dog-human dynamic.
Dogs are amazing. They’re also incredibly opportunistic. And if the “right” dog comes across the “right” human, pain, suffering, and problems will occur. It’s up to you to reset the priorities. It’s up to you to value yourself over the concern of hurting your dog’s feelings. We’ve become so disabled in this regard that the shear volume of struggling owners, and terribly behaved dogs grow daily. And while we continue to see dogs as angelic creatures, capable of only good, and ourselves as less than, and therefore deserving of less, this dysfunctional, sad, and unnecessary dynamic will play on.
3 July 2023
Now, before anyone loses their minds and starts chiming in about exercise, the walk, and all the other commands/activities…I’m well aware. I’m not saying to exclude anything, but what I am pointing out is the extreme value that is contained in what is for many a less obvious and less understood command/activity.
A well trained and proofed Place command, with plenty of duration work (meaning extended periods of time in the command) offers a host of benefits that are largely missed. Let’s look at a few.
-It creates an “off-switch” which enables the dog to be conditioned to simply relax on command. This is akin to training a workaholic to take daily breaks and relax. Many dogs have no “off-switch” and so like humans who will go and go even at great cost to their physical and mental health, many dogs will do the same. But instead of “work” our dogs will incessantly pace/whine/bark, constantly check windows/doors/yards, obsessively follow their humans everywhere, become overly sensitive and reactive to any sound or activity around them, become overly/territorial, and generally be on unnecessary high alert.
-It builds confidence by simply requiring the dog to remain in one location and deal with what are oftentimes unnecessarily worrying and/anxiety inducing goings-on in and around the home. Many nervous/insecure/anxious/fearful dogs will use constant motion to self-soothe (superficially cope/distract themselves) and utilize often unseen subtle (and not so subtle) avoidance to deal with that which is uncomfortable. Remaining in Place while challenging moments occur builds confidence and reduces fear—teaching your dog that it is indeed capable of handling these challenges and that in fact nothing bad comes from them.
-It helps foster healthy independence and greatly reduces the chance of creating overly dependent dogs who experience separation anxiety. Needy/clingy/insecure dogs will be glued to their owners, attempting to be near or touching them at all times, and obsessively following them any time they move. This is a perfect recipe for creating terribly dependent dogs who will often experience great stress/anxiety/discomfort when their humans are absent. Place command teaches your dog how to exist independently from you, which slowly conditions them to be comfortable on their own, and removes the ability to practice the needy/dysfunctional/clingy behaviors which create separation anxiety.
That’s just a few of the benefits for your dog. We haven’t even mentioned the benefits for you: Having a dog who can be included but not be underfoot or a nuisance. Having a dog not bum rush guests. Having a dog not interfering with kids playing. Having a dog around food but not helping themselves. Having a dog who can be crazy/silly/chaotic when appropriate/desired, and having a dog who can in a moment shut it off, be calm, cool, and relaxed.
Lastly, training and proofing Place is actually super straightforward. You can look up numerous free instructional videos on YouTube. Just remember, if you don’t proof the command with corrections for breaking (after fairly teaching the basics and slowly increasing the challenges), you won’t get the benefits listed here. Knowing and doing are two very different things—you’ll only receive the benefits available when your dog understands that Place is non-negotiable and the command must be prioritized over all other distractions/temptations/concerns.
22 July 2023
26 May 2023
Now before anyone freaks (owners or trainers), remember, this is meant as a general observation, stemming from many, many conversations with many, many trainers. If you—owner or trainer—don’t fall into these categories or agree with these statements, cool your jets…there’s always exceptions, and they don’t disprove the veracity of these observations…they only prove there are exceptions.
So, “too soft”, means that trainers are often tiptoeing around what owners need to do in order to be successful with their dogs. Because owners are often driven more by emotion than reality, their goals and their emotions often diverge, causing dogs who could be successful to not be. The firmness needed of course is on a large spectrum which runs from mildly firmer (some simple rules and consequences), to considerably firmer (exhaustive rules, permission-based movement, heavily reduced affection, and very firm consequences.) Owners unable to escape the “softness” will often struggle with even the easiest dogs, regardless of how much training or how good it is. Forget about a truly difficult dog.
“Too selfish”, means that owners prioritize their desires, their comfort, their fulfillment, over their dogs. This creates dysfunctional relationships and dysfunctional dogs—by way of unending affection, spoiling, allowing, enabling, excuse making, zero rules, zero boundaries, and zero consequences. All of which is meant to make the owner feel better, rather than make the dog feel or behave better.
“Too lazy”, means that owners find the demands of the training requirements too…demanding. So they let little moments go, they let big moments go, they bend or ignore agreed upon rules, they find using the tools (just putting them on the dog) consistently too exhausting, they can’t be bothered to put the time in to master the use of said tools, they can’t be bothered to master the training protocols, they can’t be bothered to change the lifestyle issues which contribute to the problems, and of course, they can’t be bothered to change the parts of themselves which are encouraging and facilitating the problems.
I could dive into each of these in more depth, but I think you get the idea. I wrote this not to be nasty or harsh with owners, I wrote it simply as an observation that might hopefully help owners who ARE struggling to see what role they might be playing in maintaining that struggle. And to help them see it from the trainer’s standpoint. Because as trainers, we hear “things”, and many of them we hear, or experience over and over. So why not have an honest conversation, and see if we can’t get some better results…for those honestly interested? And who knows, we might just see fewer frustrated, annoyed, burnt out trainers…and maybe, just maybe, perhaps even more happy, successful, healthy owners and dogs!
P.S. Although I’ve already stated it, I can already envision all the protestations of the exceptions—or the items left out—or the unfairness—or the crappy training that was responsible…etc, etc. I know there are exceptions. I also know this isn’t a perfect or exhaustive list. And I also know that excuses and justifications make the world go around. So owners and trainers, take a deep breath, and perhaps get something positive out of this, rather than find the locations of disagreement or exception to be annoyed with.
27 May 2023
It’s just a stare, it’s just a growl, it’s just pulling on the leash, it’s just blowing through the threshold, it’s just happy jumping and nipping, it’s just exploding at another dog, it’s just wanting to protect his food, it's just her favorite toy, it’s just that he’s tired and grumpy…
So many small moments where your dog was trying to figure out the lay of the land; who you “are” and what was possible. And without knowing, you told your dog precisely who you were and precisely what was possible.
Inevitably those small moments got bigger and bigger. The “ask” larger and more serious.
Eventually, somehow, you ended up with a dog who redirects/bites you when things on walks get serious. Eventually, you somehow ended up with a dog who resource guards their food or their toys or the couch or their personal space. Eventually, somehow you ended up with a dog who bites guests or perhaps you or family members whenever anyone breaks one of the unwritten rules your dog has passed into law.
The laws can be many, and new ones can be created spontaneously. Inevitably, they always seem to expand and become less tolerant and forgiving as time goes on.
You unknowingly built and began to climb a compliance ladder. By letting small moments go, you encouraged bigger moments to follow. And like clockwork, they surely did. And somehow, over time, life with your dog became something unwieldy, “unpredictable”, and dangerous.
Because instead of dismantling the ladder and creating clarity about who would create the rules and enforce them, you, yourself built it, and created a tyrant—one who you placed in power, and one you now have to work exceptionally hard to please and remain on their good, safe side.
The good news, you can still dismantle the ladder. But as we all know, it’s far harder attempting to dismantle that which is already built and firmly established. Far better to ensure it’s never built in the first place.
19 May 2023
So many view affection through the terribly simplistic lens of an owner simply sharing “love” with their dog. They have no idea what the affectionate interactions are sharing about themselves, and the impact these interactions are having on their dog’s behavior. And for many, if this topic is even broached, it’s met with immediate defensiveness and condemnation.
But let me dare to wade into these emotionally fraught waters.
Whether you like it or not, affection is sharing your softness, while often emboldening your dog’s firmness. On its own it’s a presentation and clarification of who you are and how you wish to be perceived by your dog. If you refuse to buy into this being a reality, there’s no sense in reading further.
But if you DO understand and accept this reality, then you can be smart and healthy in your applications of affection, and instead of creating unfortunate outcomes, you can create healthy, happy, and flourishing outcomes.
And how does one go about achieving this? By striking a strategic and healthy balance between the presentation of your affectionate, soft stuff, and your rules/structure/accountability presentation…or firm stuff.
Affection in and of itself isn’t an issue. I’m very affectionate with my own dogs. But I balance my affection with strong, believable leadership—which enables me and my dogs to have all the soft, affectionate, sweet interactions without losing our balance and creating any negative fallout.
You see, the affection isn’t the problem, it’s the absence of its balancing force—believable leadership—which is the problem. 99% of owners are amazing with sharing affection, and terrible when it comes to sharing anything resembling firm leadership. And so they end up with lopsided, dysfunctional, overwhelming, and even dangerous relationship dynamics simply because their presentation of themselves to their dogs is as a one-dimensional doormat…unintentionally.
I wrote about this in my first book Love Them By Leading Them, and it’s the piece that leads off the book: The 10/10 principle. This principle is a simple heuristic for owners to be able to better assess how they show up with their dogs, and what adjustments are likely needed if there’s issues. Put simply, if you’re a 10 in affection you better be a 10 in discipline. And if you’re a 3 in discipline you’d better be a 3 in affection. . I share this because I see almost all owners we work with grossly misunderstanding the impact of affection on their dogs, while simultaneously grossly misunderstanding (or ignoring) the beneficial aspects of discipline on them and how these two interactions, or conversations impact and cultivate what ultimately becomes their relationship dynamic as well as their life-dynamic together. . TL;DR: Every interaction with your dog is a conversation about who you are and what role you wish to play in your dog’s life. And if you want the best for both of you, be as believable and forthcoming in your discipline as you are in your affection and you’ll be great.
28 April 2023
Dog trainers don’t possess any magic. What they do possess, if they’re good at their craft, is a highly developed set of skills. But remember, at one point they knew very little, and likely got into this line of work because they were struggling with their own dogs.
So what’s the difference between a skilled and knowledgeable dog trainer and a struggling owner? Yep, you guessed it, skills and knowledge.
These people that you now hire for help were once struggling much like yourself. What did they do? They developed within themselves—likely with the help of another dog trainer—what was necessary to be able to solve their problems, and now, with all that ability, they help others with theirs’.
But, and this is a big but, all they can do is help. They can share information, teach skills, coach, and root you on—but only you can put in the work to take what is being shared and make it something personal, integrated, and useful.
You don’t have to become a dog trainer, but you do have to become a skilled, and knowledgeable owner—to whatever extent needed to match your goals.
Otherwise you’ll have to settle for watching your dog “magically” excel with your trainer, and “mysteriously” deteriorate with you.
24 July 2023
It’s actually quite simple. Instead of the old school idea of trying to attract everyone via vague, detail-free, mass appeal style marketing/promotion/messaging, and then going through all the fun of trying to convince the countless unqualified lookie-loos you’ve attracted that you’re the right fit…go the opposite direction.
Become wildly transparent.
Put your prices on your website, share your tools, techniques, and philosophy on your website, explain—in detail—the amount of work your clients will have to put in after training on your website. Share it all!
And then, in your social media, be just as transparent. Share who you really are. Let them see your personality, let them know your training beliefs, let them see what kind of teacher you are, let them see how fun/supportive/smart you are, let them see what the experience of training and trusting and investing in you would be like.
Would you rather have 50 unqualified tire kickers per week—many (or most) who will be less than pleased with your prices, tools, philosophy—or would you rather have 10 highly qualified folks who know everything about you and your work and simply want to know how and when they can sign up?
Because we are all about 100% transparency, we never have to sell/negotiate with clients on tools, training methods, the amount of work involved, or why we’re worth the price. And that’s just the way we like it.
If that’s sounds good to you as well, start thinking about how you could add filters to your website and social media, and what kind of a different business reality you might enjoy.