Is it really your dog?
Are you sure that you work with the dog you have? Or maybe the dog you wish to have? Maybe the dog your trainer or friend has? Or maybe it is your dog but few years ago when you got him, when he was completely different. When you make a training plan, and chose methods to make it real do you do that, thinking about your own dog?
These are crucial questions; we tend to forget that there are no universal training methods that will fit every single dog.
Stop for a second and think who is you dog? Do you look at him through the past or maybe your expectations?
For a very long time I have been training the dog that came to me few years ago. Dog who was shy and fearful, not very fond of working. The dog who was afraid of toys, because he was beaten for taking them. So I did not use them. I tried to, but I have always had in mind that he was not enjoying playing with them. Gapcio was a dog who stuck on a regular basis. What was true for a very long time. IT WAS. I have changed many aspects of our life together, and Gapcio has changed as well. He is no longer the dog he used to be. Finally I had to look at him from a distance, analyze his strengths and weaknesses, his characters to realize it. I found out that I have a different dog who needs a different approach.
I used to make our work slow, concentrated on behaviors that required thinking, I did not include drive, energy and fun. Because „Gapcio is a philosopher type who will think twice before acting” but Gapcio has changed long time ago and I just failed to notice it on time.
It was a valuable lesson. Now I carefully analyze our progress, doing necessary adjustments in ideas and methods. To see if they are still up to date.
Present Gapcio is drivey and keen to play. He is fast and dynamic. He is nothing like the dog I adopted few years ago.
It was the same with Gunia and Gacek.
With Gunia, for a long time I have assessed her through the prism of her aggression. I have always informed everyone that she is reactive and may have issues with direct contact. I was blinded by her reactivity, and I lost the moment at which she has started to change. I was too late and for a long time I did not update my methods in our training plan.
Gacek on the other hand had issues with concentration and emotions. It was a challenge for him, to focus during the training session. He was quickly frustrated and loosing motivation to work. We were stuck in one place because I hang on to Gacek with whom I have started. Not the one I had.
The perfect dog
Sometimes we look at our dog through the prism of the dog we wish to have. We have this image of the ideal dog which we want to make true. But on the way we forget that our dog is far away from this vision. We can not expect our dog to fit into a training plan we saw during a seminar. If something worked well on twenty other dogs it does not give you guarantee it will work on your dog.
If we push our dog to trial quickly, because we want our perfect dog to have results, and our dog is not yet ready, we can easily shout him down. Every plan needs adjusting, it simply makes sense to adjust. If you carefully assess your dog you will see that some assumptions are not real. But in order to notice it you have to put your dog first!
I am constantly analyzing and updating my training plan. I want to seeing way of reinforcements, play, length of session are up to date and property adjusted to current level of my dog.
Dogs grew up, too. They change throughout time, get experiences. You definitely know how relationship changes your dog. It does not only apply to rescued dogs. Puppy you got from a very good kennel will not stay the same for the rest of his life. It will have different needs and abilities on every stage of his life.
Stop for a second and look at your dog. Think about his strengths and weaknesses. When creating a training plan do you focus on these? Can you create a plan your dog will enjoy and which will make both of you more successful?
If your dog is more insecure and slow, is it really how he is? Or maybe you make him that way? If you always considered him fragile, then maybe subconsciously you do everything to keep him that way. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
„Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” – Buddha.
Take the example from your dog, for him only now matters. So before you will answer the question „who is your dog” take a moment and think twice before you answer. Are talking about the dog you have now?