Owner Profile: The Baffled Amateur

25 May

Yeah, that’s about right.

Everyone was a beginner at some point, right? Well, in this next installment of the owner profiles we are discussing that person who just never gets with the program. Somehow, even after owning a dog for years the most basic information has completely eluded them.

Are you for real?

Are you for real?


Description: When interacting with the Baffled Amatuer (BA), it becomes apparent that despite owning dogs for years, this person still does not understand the basics of dog training, behavior, or even anatomy.  These are individuals that no matter how much advice they get, classes they take, or reading they do, they never seems to quite “get the the hang of” dog ownership. Strangely these people often have some of the most extensive and best help available to them, yet they never quite grasp the subtleties that make basic survival possible. This causes us to wonder how the BA has managed to exist as long as they have.



Common Locations: The vet. They spend an ungodly amount of time at the vet or asking people if they should take their dog to the vet. They are also training class regulars, frequently taking and dropping out of classes when their total lack of comprehension is only topped by their dog’s utter confusion. You may also find them standing baffled in front of any number of aisles at the pet store staring vacantly as though they are communing with a world only they can see.

Fantasia can arise anew. Also, the Pupperoni is cheaper at costco.

Breeds Owned:   The BA tends to be an anomaly in breed picking. Like much of the country, the top ten breeds are exceedingly common. The BA however, will with astounding frequency, own not only uncommon, but downright rare breeds as well. How they found them, let alone were given permission to purchase without their guardian (because most BAs shouldn’t be allowed out without some kind of assistance) is beyond us, but apparently they have magical powers that render breeders powerless against their “I can haz puppy?” pleas.


There are under 1,000 of us in the country and I STILL end up owned by a moron.

Skill Level:  Low.   Very, very, low. Surprisingly, however, you will see the BA making an effort (just a poor one) at any number of dog related activities. Their sense of accomplishment however is disproportionate to the reality. A CGC becomes a Nobel Prize while a Rally Novice title is the ‘MacArthur Genius Grant’. Their perfectly average* dog is now a titan of canine perfection and the rest of us will never hear the end of it.

Catch Phrases:  “I just can’t stop him from pulling on leash”, “How did you do that?!”, “Do you think this is serious?”


Yup. Very Serious.

Anecdotal evidence:

BusyBee:  Living in an apartment complex in the middle of a large city, I spend a lot of time outside in the park near my place with Mr. T, and as such, have met quite a few neighbors and their dogs.  Although I have seen a lot of idiocy (that is an entirely different blog entry), one neighbor in particular stands out as being a classic BA.  Despite having owned dogs for over 30 years, this woman still lacks the most basic of dog skills.  After kindly directing her to a local positive reinforcement trainer to work with her latest dog (which at 3 years old barely responded to his own name), I literally saw her in the park attempting to use her clicker as a remote control (pro tip: it doesn’t work that way).   I am also fairly certain that this woman thinks I am a wizard because I have taught Mr. T basic obedience such as “sit”, “down”, and “stay”.   Seriously, her head almost exploded when Mr. T.  backed up on cue. While I get that everyone has different levels of dog sense and skill, I just don’t understand how someone can own dogs for 30+ years and still think that teaching a dog to sit is an advanced trick.


What magical voodoo is this? He sat? Maybe if I hit pause again…


Potnoodle: My life is filled with these people. Between grooming and agility class, they cycle in and out of my life. Unfortunately, one person seems to cling. This person has several dogs of the same breed, all of them ridiculously fat and badly behaved. Whenever this person is given advice, it seems like she only picks up on a few key phrases. “Your dog needs to lose weight. You should probably have his thyroid checked, but also try more excercise and replacing some of his kibble with green beans.” becomes “replace his kibble with green beans.” She is then shocked that anyone would want to do such a cruel thing to poor schnookums. When she first brought her dogs to class, the instructor told her to walk around the field and get her dog aquainted with the area. Now, several class cycles later, she still walks the dog around the perimeter every time they come. Honesstly, it’s like working with a two year old.

This ain’t gonna cut


Fang: Like Potnoodle, these people are inescapable. Somehow I managed to get herded into teaching obedience classes, and like the moron I am, I usually go along without complaint. Every single class always has at least one of these unique specimens that make me want to smash my head into the nearest moving vehicle so my own training time is a welcome break, or so I once thought.  I am unlucky enough to train with one of these BAs regularly, and despite my avoidance, I frequently get to hear of the great things they have done. Their recent string of failures mind you are to him, all the dog’s fault. Hundreds of hours, four different trainers and numerous complete failures in training all attributed to his own errors are  then carried to the ring and he refuses to believe he has done a single thing wrong. A recent smackdown by someone I respect hopefully reached into his brain because he has been AWOL since it happened. Thank goodness for small miracles. His dog will never be so lucky.


*We’re not bagging the titles or the accomplishments, as for some dogs these will always be a distant dream, but rather we are talking about the disproportionate acclaim for something fairly pedestrian on an average pet (i.e. one without reactivity, anxiety, etc).

7 Responses to “Owner Profile: The Baffled Amateur”

  1. pitbull friend May 25, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    I’m extremely grateful that I am probably not one of these. It seems to me that we are all BAs in SOMETHING, SOMETIMES. I have given up several activities over the course of a lifetime because I’m not particularly good at them, don’t seem to get much better at them, and don’t enjoy them enough to do them anyway. (Ballet, for instance. Playing the oboe. Geometry.) But knowing one’s limits seems more important when there’s an innocent animal involved in the thing you are not good at. It must be hard to admit that one just isn’t “good at” dogs. Still, I have strenuously avoided becoming a dog trainer, and this is one reason why. (I imagine I’m just as frustrating to a music teacher as a BA with dogs would be to me…)

  2. JT May 25, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    There are times when I want to punch these people in the throat. Does that make me a bad person? Hearing that a dog just got ‘spaded’ and ‘he won’t stop pulling!’ drive me to cataclysmic, hell just opened in my yard and Mephistophles leaped out, tear my hair rage. Ho hum.

  3. DCatcher May 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    My favorite; we’ve already tried everything. And then to each suggestion the response is “well not that” which obviously won’t work for specialkins because……

  4. catherineduke May 26, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    Hahaha, I immediately thought of one of my customers, who has two beaucerons and can not manage them in any way shape or form. She tells me she has been involved with the breed for over 20 years and “they just aren’t trainable”. 0.0

  5. Lori Adams June 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    I may be one of these in certain ways, but at least my dogs have house manners. And hell, I’m a slacker.

  6. AD January 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    I am still convinced my dog is not that bright. I don’t blame trainers for thinking when I say that “um no it’s you”, but seriously they never experienced how much easier it was to train my cat to do tricks than my dog. I will always be convinced my cat is smarter than that dumb dog. I am not saying he is un-trainable but really, dude, it’s okay, not every dog is the smartest dog ever!


  1. Dog Owner Profile: More Money Than Sense | The Dog Snobs - August 20, 2013

    […] More Money Than Sense (MMTS) owner. The MMTS is the love-child of the Know it All Novice  and the Baffled Amateur. While they may not have the answer, they know who does and his name, ladies and gents, is […]

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