Are we there yet?

With social media and access to video editing it is easy to believe that dog training can be a snap of the fingers and your dog is just amazing. This is not the case, not typically anyways. Dog training requires consistency, dedication and some effort on the owners part to get results from your fur buddy.  So many times I will hold my first one hour class with a new client, provide them with the tasks to work on during the week and upon returning will be greeted with "my dog is not perfect!"  My response, are they getting better, do you see an improvement? If they did as they were instructed the answer should be yes. If it is, then I say that is a good thing!! Accept that victory and let's continue building this foundation. Patience and dedication is necessary to make progress, and there are steps that are required in order to get to that level. One week of learning how to walk on the left is NOT going to teach the dog off-leash heel! 

Contrary to what the internet has shown us, there is a system when it comes to dog training. I usually use the analogy of building a house. You must first have a good foundation before you can start to put up the walls. The basics are that foundation - heel on lead, sit, down, stay and come when called. Those must be taught on leash and up-close before you can advance to any distraction or distance work. Any time you introduce a variation on the commands, you must be attached and close to your dog. 

A good example of this is my group class environment. I have seasonal group classes which are open only to those dogs that are at a certain level in their obedience training. Each and every dog I have personally worked with and it has shown good advancement in the home environment. The next step in their training is distraction work and taking them out of their home. It never fails, when the dog is introduced to so many other dogs and people in a place most have never been to it acts like it has never heard a command before!! They do not want to heel properly, they are slow and not consistent with their sit, down and stay. The owners are shocked and stunned, "I can't believe my dog is acting like this!! They do so well at home!" I tell them it is normal, it is exactly as I had expected them to behave and it is necessary to get to the next level. We are putting up the walls now, so to speak. 

I tell the owners be patient and stick with the training. By the end of the class the majority of the dogs have settled in and are more consistent with the basics. Many of them I have doing an extended stay with distractions as well as a nice heel with all the other dogs by the end of the first group session. 

So, don't let social media or "reality TV" trick you into believing there is a magic wand that will get your dog perfect with little or no effort. Most dog's can be trained, but there is work that is required to make it happen.