Wednesday, February 18, 2009
A musing on my part..
I don't know if I like this traditional term, and I certainly don't regard my meager efforts as training, per se...
I see my self as more of a mentor.. a leader. I'm of the opinion that well bred birddogs do not need training, but merely direction. They need to be praised when they perform correctly, or as we would like, and discouraged when they get it all wrong.
The dog has the nose and the instincts.. We cannot put into the package anything that is not there already.. All we can do if offer encouragement when our wishes are complied with, and a correction of only the necessary harshness to prevent unwanted behaviors from becoming habit.
We must also have the necessary temperament and experience to realize that we are dealing with an animal. That animal has a tremendous capacity to learn, but we cannot think that our efforts will be rewarded as quickly as with a human.. Some breeds, and some individuals within a breed, are slower to mature than others, and while we must take care not to fall behind the learning curve, we must also be cognizant of the fact that repetition and consistency are keys, and that the experience is a process rather than a destination.. There is no prize for the handler who finishes first..
Did I mention fairness? Don't expect more than the pupil has had the time to mentally sort out and come to learn.. This is a sure way to turn the dog off altogether, much like the child that reaps failure for lessons not yet learned. It sets up a pattern of negativity..
So, what we need is time, and plenty of it, patience, consistency and understanding... We often need to work on our own temperament moreso than the dogs. And always finish up on a positive note, even if the day's work was not world class of if there was a setback.. even if it takes setting up a situation that we know the dog can perform correctly.. We're still pals, no matter what... And as one member of the team goes... so goes the other.
pictured is an old friend, Tom, getting down with the dog to style up his then, young Pointer, Bailey..
Tom and Bailey both deserve a little recognition.