I have 4 students taking a dog training “break”? Here is my view on training breaks…
Student 1: Lost his job, can’t afford the lessons right now.
Student 2: Family emergency
Student 3: Wife needed surgery and long recovery
Student 4: Broken foot
In each of these cases, these students needed to take a break in the training. Each are good students, with nice dogs, lessons were going well, but conditions came up that required that they take a break.
I’m pretty laid back with my students. This isn’t a military academy. To do things correctly, a good trainer works well with people, gives them support along the way, and helps them meet their life goals, including their goals for their dogs. It isn’t as if these dogs needed to be trained by a specific date for a specific job. In that case, then I would be more insistent to find a way to keep the training going, even through a hardship.
For example, there is much more urgency if we need the dog trained before the new baby arrives. I’ve had many students, late in their pregnancy, that needed their dogs trained as soon as possible. Imagine being less than a month from delivery, with a boisterous and out-of-control 1 year old male Newfoundland. I had a student like this about 10 years ago. The dog would run at her from behind, and had knocked her flat. She wasn’t able to do much with the dog, and had to stop working with him. Fortunately, her husband was very supportive, and we got the dog trained before the baby arrived. It all worked out well in the end.
For the above-mentioned 4 students, they are working out their personal situations, and I’m periodically staying in touch and providing support. In fact, Student 4 messaged me today, her foot is healed and she will be ready to restart in 2 weeks. That’s after a 6 month layoff. I’m looking forward to seeing her and her dog; she messaged me this morning: he “is a wonderful pup but he needs his training. Thank you, Sam.”
There are other types of layoffs. Some work out, some don’t. For some students, I have assigned them long term homework, or they are “snowbirds” (which I see seasonally). The problem with longer term layoffs is that it is too easy to quit the training when we aren’t working together regularly with appointments. That’s the main reason I don’t like training breaks. But, it just depends upon the person. I am the type that will take a training class, and then diligently work what I was taught, even for years. Long term breaks are a chance to hone the training I received, so I’m ready for the next batch once I have mastered what my teacher showed me. However, I don’t think most people are like that, they need a personal coach, which is why I stay available and in touch over the years. I still want your original goals you set out, and want you to be successful. I like being your coach, your dog training “sensei”. My students thank me for the support. Some don’t, however, because I think they assume I’m just looking to get them to spend more money. That isn’t my way.
If you are on a training break, it is time to look at your calendar and schedule your next lesson, even if it is 6 months out. Let’s assume you will be ready by that date. Goals have the amazing power to line up everything you want in life, and that works for dog training, too.
See you soon!