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Beginning Again in Dog Training (and writing!)

Since it's been several long, long, years since I wrote a blog post, I apologise if I'm a little rusty.

Perhaps in the intervening years, I've become somewhat more interesting and wise. The gap itself certainly was interesting.

I wanted today to talk about a concept that I've seen ignored many time over the years - starting at the beginning.

I have started over disciplines so many times (like right now with writing!) that I can't quite count. I probably have a black belt of lower ranking belts from different martial arts systems over 20 years of practice. I have started so many dogs from knowing nothing - or knowing the exact wrong things - that I rarely ever get to finish a dog through any particular skillset like herding or agility. I have reworked my understanding of the world over and over until finally I feel it's parsimonious - only to have to do it again.

The beginning is where the hard stuff is.

It is the rough edge that whets the blade.

It is where you are afraid, and uncertain, and feel the same trepidation you felt as a child whenever your world upended. This fear is why people rarely continue with a complicated discipline like martial arts, mathematics, or dog training once they've dipped their toes in.

Alas, there's a minimum level of competence needed to ethically keep dogs, and so people look for good instruction only to find instructors rarely if ever actually start at the very beginning of the discipline because it's hard for the instructors, too.

You can't build great dogs on shaky foundations.

Which means we have to learn the muscle memory of the leash handling, through exercises done every single day. We have to ask for that sit every time the dog approaches the door for you to open it, and enforce it. We have to do the long line work before the lead work before treats ever enter the picture. If your dog can't stay, he certainly can't hike. Dogs do best when their foundation is solid. If you're struggling with something basic offleash, go back to doing it on leash, then try again after more precise expectations are met on leash. Repeat until successful.

The reason for this is that dog training is linguistic, and you can't read if you can't understand that the letters have meaning.

So when you slog through your long line exercise for the fortieth time, and adjust their sit position for the tenth, feel no frustration because this is the point. You are building that foundation, brick by brick. Take your time. Do it well. You will be grateful to your past self for doing so.


Tags: puppy training, dog training, dog training tulsa, dog training skiatook, dog training sand springs, dog training oklahoma, teaching a dog to walk on leash, dog boarding tulsa

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