I was talking to a client after class the other night about some of the challenges he’d been having with his young pup, the biggest of which being that she wouldn’t come when he called her. He mentioned that he’d been spending 1 to 2 hours every day training her and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t get her to listen, despite all of the practice.
Curious about the amount of time he was spending on her training, I asked him why he was working with her for such long periods at a time. His reply was honest in saying that he just wanted to do the best he could and didn’t want to make any mistakes with her.
Now believe me, I know what it feels like to want to do everything right. To never make a mistake. To want to raise that so called “perfect” dog that so many books and articles say you can have if only you follow a particular training formula.
But raising a dog isn’t about “getting it right” or creating perfection, especially not in the first few weeks of that dogs life with you.
Raising a dog is first about creating a relationship with that dog. Then, as you do that, you start teaching it some basic ground rules. Boundaries. Then you start setting up expectations that become increasingly more challenging for the dog until, one day, you get to the point where your dog is now living proof of all the effort you put in to it.
You’ll open your front door and forget that the dog once used to bolt out. You’ll clip the leash on and relax knowing your dog will walk nicely beside you. Guests will come over and you won’t even think about what to do with the dog while they’re there because you’ll know the dog has manners and will trust it to behave well.
But none of that happens in a day. It’s a step-by-step process, a gradual progression of building on one small behaviour at a time.
Your puppy is only young for a short time and your new rescue will only take a short while to experience all of the firsts it will have in its time with you. So take it slow.
And if you remember nothing else, remember this:
The journey IS the destination, so enjoy it while you can.
Until next time,
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