Listen To Your Dog
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Something my dad taught me was "a dog will tell you how to train them". Perhaps we all know this instinctively. Yet it is something that many of us forget. Especially if you only train a dog when you have a nursery dog age out (basically every two years). Our tendency to fall into what's comfortable leaves many dogs behind. You can't rely on previous experience as your sole road map going forward. Even if a dog is 90% like your previous dog, that 10% difference is huge. Where one dog needed patience and understanding, the next dog needs hard boundaries and strict corrections. A very common example would be having a dog working at distance. If you simply start every dog with pushing them out then you miss the dog that is very insecure with pressure. The insecure dog needs to be drawn in and has to feel confident and comfortable in those high pressure situations. If he was always pushed out as a puppy, it becomes infinitely harder to draw them in later in life. Now again that's just an example but it's a common mistake. It's a main reason that I rarely go to the training pen with a plan. I like to step in and get my dog to move stock as controlled as we can. I'll watch for their weakness then focus on that particularly. If how I'm working their weakness isn't helping then I ask myself a few questions. Is my particular method working to help this dog? Is the stock making this exercise impossible? Is this dog simply not capable to do what I'm asking? Now I can manipulate two of those variables and I never write a dog off until I've tried a new method with different stock. Yes, dogs can simply not have enough quality to do what I'm asking. But if they have the desire to try and to learn then they typically can be taught. Our own ego will
make us blame the dog long before we blame ourselves. If the dog isn't improving then we have to pay attention to that. No two dogs are the same and certainly our training has to reflect that. Listen to your dog, they want to be better as badly as you want them to be.