Something that frustrates new people and especially frustrated me at the beginning are all the ambiguous answers from seasoned handlers. Simple questions like “how do I start a dog?” Is met with answers like “well you have to let them have fun and gain they’re respect.” Like what the hell does that even mean? I wanted a how to. Step one, step two and so on. Not some riddle. Invariably the advice was followed with something along the lines of “don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.” Now that I have started to figure it out, I mostly understand what people were trying to tell me. Now I’m faced with giving advice and I find I end up giving the same if not similar advice that I got at the beginning. Which got me thinking. Why is it that handlers have a difficult time explaining how to train a dog? What I realized is that I don’t exactly know how to train a dog (don’t nod you ass). What I understand is the philosophy and I mess around until I get the results I’m looking for. There are things that a majority of people do, like circling and so on. But we all have our own little method based around the underlying philosophies. I talked about teaching vs training in an earlier blog but that is essentially what I’m talking about. The best advice someone can give you is “don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.” Because that’s the only real way to learn in this. Pay attention to your results. Try things and see what happens. Get someone to have a look at what your doing and get advice. Then keep doing all those things until you retire. You’re never done learning so always keep learning. And don’t worry if you wreck a couple dogs. It’s hard to know where the lines are until you push them and you can’t push them without crossing them and you can’t cross them without wrecking some dogs. Keep trying and adjusting. Go with your gut. Unless your gut is telling you to buy a blue heeler. In that case your gut cannot be trusted.
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