The Sport of Dog Training
When I was a child, I wasn’t thinking about owning a dog training and pet service business in Los Angeles California. I wanted to play basketball just like Michael Jordan; I would watch him jump so high, run so fast, expertly shoot a ball from 30 feet away (nothing but net) into a little basket 10 feet high, all while running and being chased by others. Over time, I watched enough basketball games and knew the rules to know exactly what I was supposed to do when I got on the court. I finally was going to practice what I “knew” in my first game, but everything fell apart.
I arrived at the basketball court, with my new, fresh (diction as used in the 80’s vernacular) high-tops, Air Jordan basketball sneakers, a brand new basketball I received for my birthday and I was all set, right? Wrong, no one told me that the physiological mechanics of running, timing, speed, consistency, quickness, coordination, balance, strength and innate ability were all conditional to my success. How hard could it be to throw a ball into a basket I thought? Well, it turns out there are reasons there are very few “Michael Jordans’” in the world. Many sports are conceptually understood by folks but very difficult to implement successfully without great practice, dedication, drive, and determination. Dog training is no different.
Teaching Dog Training
As the renowned trainer Bob Bailey says, “Training is simple but not easy.” The principles are very straightforward and simple, but applying them in practice is very difficult. Teaching and coaching pet parents about dog training are no different. When I teach and educate dog owners on how, when, how fast, what time, consistency, cues (verbal and physical), prosodic and inflection of speech, body language, stimuli to be aware of, and how to perform certain behaviors, many times this information goes to mush, and they forget every step and break down when they try and put it all together into practice, kind of like I did in my first basketball game. Often times I hear a gasp, or a wow when my clients exasperatedly exclaim, “you made that look so easy, how can I possibly do this?” Well, like any sport, dog training takes practice, consistency, patience, repetition, and awareness of one’s body, energy, mind, and abilities in addition to your dog’s abilities as well.
Every animal on earth is an individual, the fact that most people often forget. Many parents want their child to go to Harvard medical school but very few do. Remember the dictum/proverb, “Man makes plans, and God laughs.” Dogs are all individuals, just as you and I. Your “plans” of your dog being the next obedience champion may not be in the cards. But it is important to get the “most” out of your child or in this case, your pet. Otherwise, it would be a shame to waste all of that talent and potential.
Dog Training Knowledge Vs. Ability
There are many certified, knowledgeable dog trainers as there are expert basketball aficionados, but how many incredible dog training professionals have the ability, perspicacity and skill set to teach, coach, explain and make it all come together by performing the exact methods and bring out the best in their clients as well? Not many, which may be why you most likely do not know who Stacey King is and why you do know who Michael Jordan is. They both played on the same championship team for three years but ask a kid who Stacey King is, and it is like you asked him Newton’s laws of motion on variable-mass systems. The mechanics of dog training are as differentiating between one trainer and another as are the skills of basketball players. How well a dog trainer not only teaches both species who are both beginners how to communicate, but who can produce a result in the most humane, ethical, efficient way, while using force-free positive reinforcement techniques is what differentiates one dog trainer from another. Just as important is the pet parent’s ability to reproduce the behavior results that the dog trainer elicited. What good would it do for a dog trainer to be able to communicate perfectly with your pup if you couldn’t?
Certifications do not a trainer make! This is simply the primal point at which to begin a search. Just as all lawyers are not great not all certified trainers are great. In fact, many certified dog trainers are flat out terrible. Back to my basketball analogy, just as any potential coach or player would need to know the rules, concepts, theory, drills, practices, history, nuances and be in shape physically and mentally so does a certified professional dog trainer. Simply being a knowledgeable statistician and basketball aficionado does not mean you are incredible at basketball. And being an incredible player doesn’t magically make you a qualified teacher. With dog training, not only should you be an incredible teacher but an even better doer! In this profession you are teaching two different species, upping the game for any professional, regardless of their certification level. I know plenty of certified dog training professionals that I would not allow to teach my dog or me although their theoretical knowledge may be sufficient. However, that would not dissuade me from beginning my search with members of the Pet Professional Guild, Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT) and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant’s (CDBC)
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try, Try Again
Do not get discouraged when you first attempt to train your dog or to follow your dog trainer’s instructions; practice makes perfect. If every kid got stultified by their first attempt at a sport, they would never receive the joy and fulfillment that comes with improvement, drive, dedication, success, and self-growth. Try to be as open and amenable as possible. Choose your dog trainer wisely, as you would research a doctor or college for your child. It pays to do due diligence about your educator and coach this will set the stage for you and your pup for the next 15 or so years. One caveat, if you think a knowledgeable best dog trainer is too expensive, I would postulate, wait until you see how expensive an amateur is. If you skimp out and hire someone less perspicacious, the time and money it will cost to undo the problems that were created by this pet store or less skilled alternative will pale in comparison to hiring the best trainer. It is wise to invest and hire the best dog trainer in Los Angeles and Miami and behavior expert in the first place to ensure you are receiving the best up-to-date scientific knowledge, skills, advice and care a pet can get. Keep up the great work, and there are no losers when you are trying your best. Your dog, society and we appreciate your efforts very much. Fun Paw Care has a deep reverence for responsible, caring pet parents.