Twice again recently I have had the age old conversation of doing more than one discipline/sport/activity with your dog.
So many times over my past 10+ years in dogs I have been told I can’t do obedience if I want to do field work, I can’t take my dog tracking if I wish to field trial, I can’t do agility if I want to do obedience, I can’t do trickwork if I want to show and it goes on and on and on.
The more honest translation of these words are that those who speak them are fearful.
- They are fearful that doing one thing might adversely affect another.
- They are fearful that different training methods might create conflict.
- They are fearful that the skills are not present to overcome the bumps in the road which you do inevitably hit when multi-disciplining.
- They are fearful of change.
- If guiding you they are fearful they may not be able to guide you in ways outside of their normal training and lack the knowledge to think outside the box.
- They are fearful of challenge.
There are lots of reasons behind the “you can’t” statements but the common factor is fear.
Dogs don’t fear any of these things. When you ask a dog to do something, when you train a dog to do something, they approach with an open heart and mind and with your guidance can achieve almost anything.
When you have begun to train in one discipline and start to introduce a second is it easy? sometimes yes often not, but doable, some more doable than others yes but doable never the less.
When you wish to multi discipline are there more considerations than sticking to one sport/activity? Yes of course, you need to consider the equipment, body language, commands used etc and you need to refine training and think ahead but with the right instructor guiding you its all possible.
I recently had a perfect example of this during a gundog training session with a very well known championship winning field trainer. I came to him with a dog that I compete in obedience with, have dabbled in agility and heel work to music with, do regular trick work with, she has experienced blood tracking and Scentwork UK work, she is shown and goes beating each winter, she has competed and placed at working tests….. in short there isn’t much she has not done.
This would send most ‘old school’ field trainers running for the hills yelling ‘unclean’ as they ran but not this one, the whole session he worked with what he had, never saying never and never berating the other disciplines, instead he looked at the issues we had and tried to connect the dots to the learning experiences my dog likely had based on what I had told him we had already done, he used her skills to hone the skills she was missing in the field and he tailored our session beautifully. It was a joy to be part of and Faith was nothing but empowered all session long.
This is the kind of trainer I aspire to be. The kind of trainer who will never say never. The kind of trainer who won’t tell you its going to be easy but equally wont tell you its impossible, who will discuss the most likely issues you will face and how you can attempt to pre-empt them and navigate them. The kind of trainer who will tell you that they might choose to do things differently but if you want to have it all then they will do their utmost to help you do so.
Find these kind of trainers and cherish them in your multi discipline journey for they are few and far between. When you find them learn all they have to offer, grow and allow your dog to grow and leave your fears behind you where they belong.
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