A., my boss, and I had discussed this client before. She had not asked about private consultations, but we knew it sounded like she could benefit from them. She lives with 5 or 6 German Shepherds, at least 1 or 2 of them have to remain separate from the rest, and the most recent GSD, her son's dog, has dog reactivity issues. The latter had gotten in a dog fight several weeks prior to class, and her husband got bit. Our assessment was that either something awful and traumatic would happen before immediate action would take place, she was in denial there was a real problem, or possibly her husband did not want to do private training due to time, cost, or only wanting to use a heavy hand so to speak (we run into this frequently)
Now, I'm not just pointing out this specific client, because we run into problem all the time. In fact, ask any dog trainer, and most will say that a good 75% of their cases are related to fear and aggression. Many times, people wait until there is a real problem where major damage has been done, instead of looking at all the warning signs that have been shown. Sometimes, people do not even know what the potential signs are, so it is vital to continue education.
I think this entire thinking is very similar to eating disorders and other illnesses. We often wait until we have a major break down before getting help. Whether it is denial, validation purposes, or whatever, we wait. We wait until it's almost too late, until the problem is acutely, visibly seen, until our bodies and mind begin shutting down from starvation, purging, compulsive exercise, etc.
In other instances, people still have the notion that this is just a phase for the ED sufferer, that the person will just snap out of it, that all they need to do is eat, and all will be better. Other times, people fear the stigma of having a mental illness or that they don't deserve help. Meanwhile, no treatment is done at all, therefore, the problem which might have been caught early has now escalated and snowballed into months and years of an eating disorder.
This is certainly not to say that sometimes efforts are made by both the sufferer and other family members/friends and either treatment is denied/unaffordable or the sufferer refuses, but here, I'm focusing on the whole concept of waiting until things go from just awry to bad to worse to traumatic.
In some ways, it almost seems like human nature. Whether it is a dog's behavior, an ED or another illness,
having some major trauma, break down episode forces us to see and realize things are not hunky dory. It's sad that most times this is what it takes to get our attention. Imagine if we all took more of a proactive stance? With dogs, there would be less dog behavior problems. With those with EDs, more would get help earlier on and not fall into years and years of misery.
I have to say that with recovery, I've gotten to a point where it is easier for me to be more proactive than I used to be. Therefore, I have less chance of falling into a deep, dark pit of despair. It's not easy to change this type of thinking, but in the end, your life may be worth it.