Be patient, you will get there in the end! That is the message I have for you this week. Sometimes it feels as though you will never get there, but if you stick with it, you probably will, eventually. Here’s some proof –
On Sunday 9th October we went to an agility show. We haven’t been to many shows this year, for various reasons, but we’ve been plugging away at training. Luna is 6 years old now – at her peak, really. I did her initial training but then two years ago, in March 2014 or thereabouts, Chris started doing agility with her. They work really well together and have already had quite a few rosettes, culminating in their first ever win on Sunday, taking them both to grade 4!
On Wednesday I was back at training with the two ‘youngsters’, Aura and Busy. They have both been doing agility since before they were a year old, yet both of them are still learning. I have been doing agility now for 9 years. I’ve been to hundreds of hours of classes, trained up four dogs from scratch and worked pretty hard with those four. I am extremely proud of Chris and Luna’s achievement, feeling that it is well deserved on their part and that I have contributed in no small part to their success – it’s a team effort.
Yesterday I was watching one of my other puppies working with her owner and the trainer to learn to do one piece of equipment. It really demonstrated what a complex, long-term process training a dog can be. Everything must be broken down into easy stages and practised. Practised over and over again, with a bit more practice and then still more practice.
One step forwards, two steps back
What is also noticeable when training dogs is that there are many setbacks along the way. What seems easy one week can be really challenging next week. What is easy in one place becomes much too difficult somewhere else. A good example of this was Aura’s runs at the show. She has made such great progress at training and is running around coping with most of the obstacles really well. Yet in the ring, with the added excitement of it all, the other dogs and people around and the unfamiliar equipment, Aura becomes slightly hysterical and cannot cope with it all! She finds it tremendously exciting and forgets everything she has learnt. Watching her do a run with Chris, it was obvious that she wasn’t listening to what he was telling her – it was just too exciting! Never mind, she had fun.
That is something that is vital to remember when training a dog – have fun! It is the main objective I have in the lessons I am putting together for Training Classes for Dogs ‘n’ Kids. I want people to understand that owning a dog should be about the pleasure it brings and that working with your dog is what gives you the most pleasure.
Of course, many of the lessons we learn in training our dogs apply equally well to other life lessons. If you want to find out more about other work I do in helping people with their businesses, please head over to IndePenDent Inspiration. Or leave me a comment about your training triumphs?