This past weekend was the yearly Fredericksburg Pet Show held at the Fredericksburg Expo Center in Central Park. Because it's our area's only full scale pet expo, we not only set up a Pup 'N Iron information booth, but we also provide two entertaining and educational demos on the main stage each day, and I also emcee the expo's "Most Talented Pet" contest. It's a great opportunity to get out there in our community and meet, greet, educate and spread awareness about different training techniques and explain why we choose to offer relationship-based, positive and dog-friendly training. One of the things that I always find interesting when speaking with the general public is the misconception that training a dog is finite. That you put "x" amount of time in and, whallah, you have a "trained" dog forever and never have to consider any additional training. There is a prevelant thought that training a dog should have a beginning and a specified end and unfortunately many people are reluctant to jump in without that assurance.
Unfortunately, I can't give that to anyone. And even if I could, I wouldn't want to. I tell all my students and clients up front that training a dog is a continual process and a works in progress. You don't simply get your dog "trained," with a period at the end of the sentence, but rather you embark on a journey together. The journey will have twists and turns, hills and valleys, both bumps and smooth sailing. There will be triumphs and milestones as well as set backs. You will set goals, reach them, and likely set new goals. And all of that is okay because througout the journey you will grow closer and your bond will deepen. Your partnership will blossom, and you will create a unique relationship that will enrich both of your lives. It will be something you will cherish forever and never forget.
I had a few people stop at our table this weekend and when I inquired if they were interested in any of our training programs they answered, "no, my dog is already trained," or "no, my dog is already good," again as if a dog must be "bad," or lacking in some area in order to benefit from training. There are so many fun things, activities and sports one can train a dog for that I can't help but feel a little sorry so many people and their dogs miss out. That's one of the reasons we do the demos. To show people just a glimpse of the fun they and their dogs could have.
And this is not to say that one must continue to pay for professional training classes indefinitely. Much to the contrary. The professional training can certainly help get you started as well as help you achieve initial and specific goals, but you will always train more on your own than you ever do within a class or lesson. If you continue to take lessons and classes, it's mainly because you need assistance with the training, or even more likely you enjoy being around like minded people who also share your passion of working with their dogs. That's what I strive for at Pup 'N Iron. Building a community of people who love the process, the ride, the journey. Personally, I don't ever want this journey to end. All aboard!