Dog trainers often report that their dogs are the barefoot cobbler’s children; they never get trained. We have busy, often insane schedules. We have families. We probably even have other interests (gasp!). But should we allow our dogs to go by the wayside? When we are immersed in dog training all day, how important is it to prioritize some dog training for our personal animals?
In a word: essential. It’s vital to our lives, our dogs’ lives, and our careers. So how do we make sure it gets done?
Block it Out
Anything else we need to be sure we do just gets written into our schedules, and its time dog training took that kind of precedence. I make a training plan for each week based on my core skills I am working on and I dedicate a few minutes to training every day, if not more. I have a friend who has a master calendar of training skills her dogs are working on, and she reviews this calendar for a few minutes each morning to be sure she knows what will get done that day. You probably already guessed this, but she is an effective trainer. If I need to correspond with clients, develop new material for online courses, and write this blog, I block out the time to do so. I do not consider these tasks optional. Dog training is like that for me.
Arrange Your Antecedents
Part of behavior change is making desired behaviors easily accessible, and we can apply this to ourselves. To help yourself train, have your stuff ready to roll and a plan ready to go. A whiteboard in your training space with notes on what you’re working on currently can help avoid the what-to-train paralysis, while a basket of training supplies readily available will make hopping right into training easy.
Hobbies or Not
I realize not all professional trainers are also hobby trainers, but we probably all live with dogs, and training is good for them. If you’re involved in sports like dog agility or obedience it’s probably pretty easy to have training goals laid out, but husbandry skills and life skills are just as important to work on. “I don’t do dog sports,” really isn’t an excuse to never train your dogs!
Use it Or Lose it
It’s true of all applied skills; use it or lose it. Flexing your training muscle will up your game and it will show in your clientele. I can typically tell which trainers actually train dogs regularly, versus the many trainers who teach people much more than they actually train dogs. Human instruction is a huge part of our industry but actual dog training needs to remain a top consideration. Whether we ever train our clients’ dogs or not (I don’t) we need to be good, practiced trainers to be able to help them.
I’m off to work Felix’s teeter end behavior and Idgie’s scent articles. What are you waiting for? Go train your dogs!