I always say “Dog training is like working out.” What I mean is training a dog takes time and consistent effort to achieve the results you want. AND when you achieve those results you need to continue to put in work in order to maintain those results.
Regardless if your workout goals are to become healthier or you want to loose some weight, you will need to dedicate some time and put in some consistent effort to achieve those goals. And after you loose that extra pesky ten or twenty pounds, that doesn’t mean you are done working out forever! You will need to continue to work out to maintain your results. The same is true for training a dog! Whether you want a well behaved family pet or you are looking to compete in a dog sport, you need to dedicate time and effort. And once those goals are achieved, it doesn’t mean that you will never need to revisit or have a refresher in order to maintain those results.
Journey at a herding lesson
“That dog looks amazing…”
Today, many of us are consumed with seeing photos or videos of dogs in a perfect heel position or staying on a dog bed until released or coming when called off leash; we are only seeing a snapshot in a moment in time. What we don’t get to see in those photos or videos are the hundreds and thousands of hours that the owner and trainer have put into themselves and their dog to get to that point shown in the photo or video. Many don’t get to see the thousands of hours of education (both near and far) that the owner/trainer put in. Nor do we see the hours upon hours of on going questions and answers and conversations with other peers and professionals about current skills, future skills, how to train those skills, mistakes made and how to communicate clearly to the dog.
I am not writing this blog to say dog owners must put in hundreds and thousands of hours to train their dogs. The reality is, as long as you can provide proper exercise outlets, teach some basic skills and be consistent, most pet dogs will be ok. However, I simply want to point out the difference of what it can take to achieve specific goals. Our dogs do not come preprogrammed, out of the box, ready to go as puppies or as newly adopted pets. Dogs need us to be their tour guide, teaching them and showing them the world they will be living in with us. And just like a workout plan, each dog and owner and household are unique and need their own customized plan to achieve their personal goals.
Journey & I at an obedience foundation lesson
It’s a Journey
Training a dog and/or modifying their behavior takes some time and consistency. It is a journey! Investing some time and consistency can not only help your dog learn skills, but it can teach you as the owner to clearly communicate to your dog, how to teach them effectively, how to understand and read them and how to build a long lasting relationship and connection. Whether you are training your dog as a family pet or for a sport, the time and effort you put into your dog will create so much more than just a well trained dog. It will create a stronger relationship and connection.
Unfortunately, despite what some training and behavior professionals might advertise, there is no “quick fix” to training and/or behavior modification. And there is no quick way to develop a relationship and connection with your dog other than working together and learning about each other. It is similar to a developing a relationship with a person honestly. The bottom line is, owning a dog and training a dog takes some time, some effort and consistency.
For those of you wanting a nice family pet, hire yourself a professional sooner than later so that problems don’t develop or so that current problems don’t get worse. You will be so glad you did, and your dog will thank you for it! For those of you who want to train a dog at a higher level or for some specific purpose such as a sport; embrace the journey and enjoy it. Remember, training a dog is like working out. Take private lessons, classes and workshops with those you want to train like and learn from. Invest your time to learn. It will be a fun and enjoyable (though sometimes stressful) experience. But the relationship and connection you will develop with your dog will be worth it. It will be something words cannot describe! Take full advantage of it and enjoy the journey!
Journey coming when called on an off-leash hike