When our training graduates go home to their owners, they are always accompanied with a carefully written document regarding their training progress and how to continue success. One of the most comment phrase we include is – each walk does not have to be long, but it has to be right. Most understand this well, that walks do not need to be very long for it to be beneficial, it has to be done properly to be beneficial. Long walks, are not bad for dogs, long walks build stamina and build endurance which many dogs lack.
Once in awhile during training, we see dogs that are poor at working, poor in stamina and poor at trying. Note that none of these depict a bad dog, these are just telltale signs that the dog has not been sufficiently engaged and taught to endure. There are numerous ways to communicate with a dog, multiple ways to train a dog, hundred of ways to raise a dog. The way I like, is to raise A Canine Athlete.
Being asked many times, what is my favourite breed, what are my favourite dogs? This is a very tough question to answer, although I own only a couple of breeds, I rarely take sides in breeds. I like dogs that are ready, dogs that try, dogs that are spirited and dogs that have confidence. One of the reason why I own that many terriers is because these little dogs, generally speaking, are more trying and more spirited by nature. I like working breeds, because these breeds too, are breeds that are hardy, ready to take a beating and will not give up easily.
I have been trying to push and promote the importance of having an actively engaging dog for awhile while majority of those in the industry continues to push for calm, quiet and solemn behaviours. There is a huge difference in surface trainings and in-depth trainings. What I care for less, is whether the dog has learnt the right command, the ‘double-down’ for a place command, the ability to off leash weave through crowds because these, without an inbuilt mind, are just surface works. You could have the perfect down command, the perfect off leash heel but a dog will never try anything more than that. What ranks the highest for me, having a dog that is spirited, ready and never gives up. Very importantly, never gives up trying. When you over-correct or restrict a dog from learning because of your selfish desire to achieve a certain behaviour, dogs that are not ready or dogs that are internally and mentally weak will quit trying. You then have a behaviour that you thought was successful and right(because the dog stopped moving, stopped barking), the truth is, your dog just quit trying with you. Like I’ve mentioned, I like to raise A Canine Athlete. In the first three years of my dogs’ lives, every single one of them goes through all kinds of trainings, environmental exposures, hundreds of confidence building, tons of activities, basically everything that I can get my hands on, eyes on and foot on. I want the dogs to not only be physically strong and abled, I want the dogs to be very flexible, spirited and filled with readiness. My canine athlete may not run the fastest or the furthest, but he will push on for as long as I want to walk, settle down wherever I left her, jump onto any rocky bridges without hesitation, take a fall and get back up immediately, be ready as soon as I put my socks on.
Many of the things I go through, teach, put the dogs through are practically useless in their daily lives, some of the trainings may be wrong or not ideal, a few of those things can be huge mistakes. But part of my agenda in raising A Canine Athlete includes raising a dog that is ready for mistakes, ready for downfalls and ready for beatings. I could have a hundred wrong tries for a new command, my dog is not going to stop trying and feel rejected. I could yell and over correct my dog for 500 times, my dog is going to come back ready to go again. I could walk for hours and KMs passed my dog’s limit, my dog is going to keep going. I could put my dog in the middle of 100 rowdy dogs, my dog is going to come out knowing what to do and what not to. What I could never ever have, is a dog that does not try. To have a dog that is ready like that, has nothing to do with obedience trainings, boundaries and rules. It has everything to do with teaching, guiding and showing a dog how to learn, how to try, how to make choices, how to get back up and how to never give up. Because then, and only then, will the dog truly understand what confidence is, how much he can take, how far can he go, how deeply can he connect with you, how to try, how to make decisions without your continuous supervision and presence and most importantly, how to be a dog who is ready inside and outside.