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The Iceberg Illusion

Updated: May 30

I recently came across this illustration, and it really stuck with me. It applies so beautifully to the dog training world. Social media only intensifies this illusion. You see all these dogs on Youtube doing amazing things. You’re bombarded by friends posting photos and videos of their dogs playing well with other dogs, doing tricks, being good with strangers, or simply walking well on leash on Facebook and Instagram. You see the success of people around you and wonder why you and your dog are not there yet.


I often hear the following when someone calls me for training, or after a couple of sessions with a dog:

  1. How come that dog is not reacting to other dogs present, and mine is losing his mind?

  2. How do you get your dog to walk so nicely on a leash? My dog pulls me everywhere we go!

  3. Your dog could never have been as fearful/reactive as mine!

  4. Why won’t my dog do a sit/down/stay when in public?

  5. My dog doesn’t come when I call him…

Short answer: Practice and consistency.


What you see is the tip of the iceberg — the successes, but not all the work that went into it, hidden below the surface. You don’t see the months of training, the tears, anger, regressions or setbacks. You don’t see them getting up and trying again, or the discipline of practicing every day, even when you are not feeling well. We rarely see the training, consistency and persistence on social media.


There are no short cuts with dog training, no quick fixes, no magic cure. TV and social media does not take you through the whole journey; it only shows you the completed product, the successes. It’s deceiving and can give you the impression you are not making progress, or your progress is slower than others – you or your dog are not as good as they are, or as smart.


Just remember – icebergs are not fast, they move at a barely discernible speed. Everyone is on a different journey, and there is nothing wrong with yours. Just remember, you will get to your dog training goals, with time, practice and consistency.


Keep up the good work!

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