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  • Writer's picturekier scott

You’re Not Their Friend

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Here's the deal about friends, friends are the shoulder you cry on and the one you rant to when things get hard. That's great but what you need in those moments is a true partner, the one you want to face hardship with as a team. It's the same thing in life; it's the difference between your parents and your friends or your spouse and your friends. It perhaps isn't a coincidence that a parent walks the bride down the aisle and the friends cheer on from the sides. Dogs are the exact same. Why settle with being their friend when you can build a relationship that is far deeper then that? And the whole spiritual fulfillment aside, it is the only way to have a dog work with you effectively. If you think of raising children; the best parents were able to correct their children without making the experience dramatic or traumatic. Parents who were friends with their children first, had a difficult time correcting that child without making the whole experience dramatic. Why is that? I have at least a plausible theory. Friendships certainly have aspects of trust and respect but friendships are mainly built on how much you like each other. Conversations like "Hey that was really shitty what you did to me on Friday" will have the response of either a whole bunch of sorry's and eggshell walking/pandering for forgiveness or "screw you! I'm sick of you anyways!" Whereas the partnership will have "you're probably right, I'm sorry. It won't happen again". Dogs will behave much the same when confronted with their mistakes. They will run and hide behind the gate because they now believe that you hate them, they'll ignore your correction and rebel even worse or if you've built the relationship correctly; they will respond and improve. Of course, I'm making this pretty cut and dry. Rebellious behaviour or quiting is not necessarily a reaction to a poor relationship but it often can be. At the end of the day, use the experiences you have in life to help yourself understand how to navigate this complex task of training stockdogs. Some of the people who have taught me most about training dogs have been the parents I've looked up to or marriages that I admire. Just remember, not being their friend is not at all the same as being mean or authoritative. Not being their friend is about showing them that you are on the same team. That they want to be good at this and that's what you want for them as well. Building that isn't always easy and they may push back until the buy into your program. But I promise it's worth it. Be their partner, not their friend.

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