Pearls of Wisdom for Every Dog Owner

I have spent countless hours working with some pretty wonderful trainers, and something that every trainer has in common is their short quips to help students remember valuable lessons. ​Here are a few of my favorites:

  • You get the dog you deserve: An oldie, but a goody. A canine twist on ‘you reap what you sow’. It simply means that your dog will be a product of what you put into him. Of course there are exceptions, but I think it works for most situations. You put in the work, you will see results. There are other interpretations, but this is the one that I am going with!
  • Don’t complain, train: See above – it’s sort of the same. It’s something my ‘inside’ voice screams a lot when I listen to someone who finds out I train dogs and wants the 5 minute cure for the 50 bad things Fido does on a weekly basis.
  • Don’t correct for confusion: I just heard this one at my first IPO training and like it… a lot. Dogs like their information to be black or white. If you haven’t put in the time to make it black or white, then you can’t blame the dog for not understanding what is asked. Doing so will certainly damage your relationship and delay training.
  • You have to scramble eggs to make an omelet: This one is from my herding instructor, Suzanne White and I just love it. Training can look messy and sometimes it may not feel like you are getting anywhere… until you do. Don’t give up! It can take years of training to prepare for competition. Enjoy the messy process (or as my friend Julia puts: ‘Embrace the awkward!‘).
  • Dogs want to know 3 things; who’s in charge, what are the rules & where do I fit in: This one I stole from Suzanne Clothiers wonderful book, ‘Bones would Rain from the Sky‘ and use it in every basic manners class I teach. Again, we go back to that black and white world dogs like to live in. Be clear and be fair.
  • Don’t be cheap: Seriously…be generous with your rewards. If your dog is doing something you like, then REWARD! Play with him (like, really play – don’t be a bore!) Or be a Pez dispenser with the treats.
  • Smile and Breathe: You have no idea how much I say this in one basic manners class. Dog training isn’t algebra and shouldn’t be a painful process.
  • Your dog is mentally writing in their journal everyday of what you do: This is another one taken from herding. It means your dog takes mental notes of you, your body language, the tone of your voice. All of it. Be clear in what you are saying (wow, I see a pattern here!).
  • RUN!… F@#king RUN!!!: Ok, I HAD to put this one in to honor one the best agility instructors I have ever had who screamed this at me from across the training barn. I have never actually said this to anyone, but it makes me laugh when I think about it (her voice sometimes swims around in my head when I am trialing). Another good one from agility: ‘motion attracts motion.’
  • Don’t be sucky to come back to: For anyone out there with recall issues, here you go. Thank you Rebeccah Aube!

​Have you been inspired by what a trainer said to you? Feel free to share your favorite gems of dog training wisdom! I am always looking for new material!

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