I was recently on a training day and I had a great day and I believe everyone else did too and that was the main take on the day overall.
I can’t help myself, I’m always observing how others work for good or bad. The good I take home with me and look at how that could help me and the bad is always food for thought when working with others.
I worked my girl as always, positively and reward based. I did get challenged a couple of times on my reward of tugging but this is generally always to be expected. Those who don’t understand believe it will create a hard mouthed dog, I have yet to find this and in fact I do believe they become far more aware of their mouth and the way they use it as actually a good and proper tug reward involves rules, rules where the dog must be aware of how its using its mouth as mouth and skin contact is a no-no that causes the game to stop. In addition you won’t ever find me playing a game of tug with any retrieve articles including dummies, dumbells and of course game! Therefore, my dogs never think that holding game in their mouth would be connected to tugging. Dogs really don’t get half the credit they deserve for their understanding.
So anyway, this was the only issue that was raised and in fact I noted on a very positive note that this was the first training day in some time that I had attended where food rewards given were accepted readily and not challenged by the trainer and praise was very much encouraged.
Before I commence my observation I must state that this is not about our trainer, they in no way chastised, this was general training observation between various dogs and handlers and is aimed at no one in particular.
What I did find a shame was the balance between encouragement and chastisement. To my mind if I require a dog to do something and it refuses then I either haven’t taught it well or there is some other underlying issue to be found and fixed. Many times I see dogs being blamed for being stubborn or ‘trying it on’ etc when that is in fact not the issue at all! It is very sad to see a dog that is under confident at doing something being forced to by virtue of threatening tones of voices and bullying body language. To see it head off from its owner by averting its body away and lowering it where such tones and body language have caused it to feel uncomfortable to the point that it is avoiding its owner and in some way unsure or unsafe is a very sad sight indeed.
Don’t get me wrong I am not standing in judgement, I have made mistakes in the past, find me an owner or trainer that hasn’t and I will find you a liar! But, I do wish to write such a blog as this in the hope that just one owner reading it might look at their dog next time they train and think about the effect they are having on their dog with the training methods they are using, they might notice their dog shying away and question their own training and seek to change it.
So back to my original blog title – What is an achievement ?
To me, an achievement (be that at competition, during a training session, on a training day or indeed during every day life), is getting something from my dog that I did not have previously and getting it in a way that empowers my dog.
What is an achievement to you?
Once you have truly and honestly answered this, seek a trainer that aligns with goal. Be true to your goal every time that you train or work your dog. Accept that sometimes you will make a mistake but get back on track each time. Empowerment is an amazing thing, it can take you and your dog as a partnership to a whole new height!
and if to you achievement is a rosette, award or trophy at any cost…..I truly hope at some point your journey will change, if you think you might be ready to reconsider your goals give me a call as Id love to work with you! Be the change!