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Slow Down!

The biggest issue I see in dog training is impatience. I get it! I sometimes get ahead of myself and find myself over facing my dogs too. Social media can also make things hard. We look at so and so with 15 titles on a year old puppy and wonder what we're doing wrong. Or our friends have a cattle dog puppy that they got the same day we got or rottweiler puppy, and at 6 months their puppy is getting their mail, and ours is still eating the rosebushes.

First, understand that doing things right takes time. You don't see many professionals out there with puppies trained to a high level, because they know that the first year is about building a relationship, allowing our puppies to grow and explore and find themselves.

Professionals also know they can do things fast or do them well, but they can't do both.

When I go to trials I see countless dogs that are trialling way above their skillset. They have titles and Q ribbons, maybe a placement or two, but now they're stuck. They have risen to the limits of their abilities, because foundations take time, so they haven't any.

I know when I tell someone it will take a year or longer to get a dog into the trial ring for herding that my competition is saying they can do it in half the time. I also know that when my dogs step into the ring, they'll be hunting more than Qs. If I step into the ring I should be able to win. I don't have to win. But its possible. I have enough dog, and enough training, and am confident that winning, while not a given, isnt out of the question. My students know the same.

I also know that if things don't go our way my dog will have the tools to cope. I know my dog not only has the skillset to eke out a paltry 60% but to move up next week if we have to.

This isn't just about showing and trialling either, this is about day to day living with our dogs. A shy, shut-down dog will learn slower than a happy dog. A biddable breed like a border collie will learn faster than most terriers. A large breed dog like a doberman will still be a dork long after your Parson's terrier has mastered life. Males mature slower than females, different breeds mature at different rates, and certain lines within those breeds mature at different rates.

Also, when looking at the folks at the top of the sport or training in general, they will make fewer errors than you will. They will wander off course less often, have streamlined trainning plans, and react quicker and more effectively to set-backs. They also acquire the breeds and dogs that they know work the best for their training style.

I could buy the best bred malonois tomorrow and doing everything right, and having no other dogs or activities to distract me, and there is still zero chance that my dog will be at the same level as one trained by Ivan Balabonov or Dave Kroyer. They're at the top because they have stopped making big stupid mistakes, and now make only tiny trifling errors

So, slow down. Your dog is a living, breathing, complex entity, just as you are. They cannot go from learning their ABCs to reading Shakespear in a week. They cannot do advanced behaviors without proper foundations, and foundations, no matter how good you are, take time. In fact, the better you are, the more time you likely spend on them!

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