Dog Training Commitment
Imagine going to a personal trainer and saying, “I want to get in shape and eat healthier.” The trainer would likely put you on a program involving a healthy diet, break down your caloric intake, a rigorous exercise routine, personal coaching, show you the correct mechanics, motions, kinetics, and would provide encouragement to make your routine enjoyable, novel and inspiring.
Now, let’s change the narrative. After you soaked all of that in, stayed on the plan for your first ten sessions which lasted four weeks and then your motivation waned and you became lazy. Your New Year’s resolution was all but a distant memory, and your work schedule got hectic, your in-laws and other company came over for the week…etc. Health, nutrition, and fitness were once a life priority, but your lack of discipline would soon have you eating donuts and unhealthily at restaurants, sitting on the couch and leading a sedentary, inactive lifestyle once again. Moreover, receiving just a few training sessions would not create the change you had hoped for. For more complex and detailed training issues that encompassed nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and multiple aspects of your health, dozens of sessions would be more appropriate and realistic.
You Get Out What You Put In
These examples draw many parallels to dog training and behavior modification. If a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) works with you to get your mechanics down pat, your knowledge of dog training and ethology ramped up, motivation peaked, coaches you, goes through planned and detailed exercises together, and then you simply do not prioritize and practice the dog training and behavior modification techniques with your dog and go over your homework, your dog’s behavior will not change and improvement will be ephemeral. One’s lack of consistency, repetition, clarity, contingency, and contiguity will be detrimental to your dog’s learning process and she will be confused or simply forget at best. If you do not follow instructions diligently and make training and behavior modification a part of your life, this will have an equally negative impact on your dog’s behavior as it did on your weight and health in the previous example. Two training sessions, two times, for behavior issues may be enough for a very few people after a behaviorist has shared an exorbitant amount of knowledge and if a pet parent is extremely diligent and commits most of their days to their pet, however, this is an anomaly and not the norm. Most of the time, a couple of dog training and behavior session are not going to change much. Moreover, the more varied, complex, ingrained and intense a behavior is, the more constant, clear and concise one must be over a greater period of time. Training and behavior modification is a process and a lifelong pursuit of learning, NOT an event. Consistent, persistent, habitual training sessions will help just as a strict diet, and rigorous working out will help with your weight and health.
Just like your educational pursuits, your dog’s desire to learn and have new experiences does not wane over time. Your dog’s craving to learn every day in a pain, intimidation and force-free environment is strong. People go to schools and learn their entire lives, why should we be so myopic to believe we are the only species that enjoy and require enrichment, and who need education to function and thrive in this world? Dog training and behavior is not an event, rather a process, and experience. Just because your dog learns a cool trick or how to sit doesn’t mean their learning is over. There is an infinite number of variations, idiosyncrasies and learning to be had beyond the most basic tricks and behaviors. Imagine we stopped going to school after 1st grade when we learned 2+2 = 4?
Hiring a personal trainer or CDBC and CPDT only to engage them for a short period and then not practice and live what was taught, is not going to get you or your dog where you want to be.
To The Victor Go The Spoils
It is frustrating and disheartening to see folks give up so quickly and come into a dog training session with set beliefs that are hardened and unwilling to change. Sometimes I wonder why they are seeking help if they do not want to listen or heed the advice they are seeking. Whatever the reason you hired a CDBC and CPDT make sure you listen, not only when they are with you, but way after they leave. If you are not committed to training with your dog and working on their behavior similar to the training protocol laid out by your trainer, you will not receive the joys of a well behaved dog and will have a fat tummy! Time waits for no one, the longer your dog practices their newly found education the more enriched and fulfilling your lives will be. Be careful, the inverse is true as well. You get out what you put in. The biggest rewards go to those taking the initiative!
What are you waiting for? Your dog could be learning as you read this!