How much training does your dog need?
Well, that’s really up to you. Some just want a dog that they can live with, will Sit, and can go for a walk. Others take their dogs lots of places, or live a busy lifestyle that might include multiple people, places and animals. Then there are those who need even more, maybe because they need their dog to do a job, or to hunt or hike off leash or be a therapy dog.
What I want is a dog with “power steering.” That’s a dog that is now so easy to live with, able to go anywhere, and do anything I need them to do. I want to get to a level where living with them is effortless. I remember years ago driving an old 1950’s pickup truck, we called it “Old Red”, that had been painted with red house paint, had worn out seats, worn out brakes, had a 2 speed stick shift and manual steering. Man, that was a fun truck. It wasn’t safe beyond about 50 mph, and even then it wasn’t really that safe. It was OK for a teenager to drive around neighborhoods, but it wasn’t something you’d really want to rely on. Without power steering, it was almost impossible to turn the front wheels without using a lot of muscle unless the vehicle was rolling. My “real” car was a new Honda. It had power steering. Big difference.
Not all of my students want that much training. That is OK. We can do just the basics in Manners, or go all the way to the limits of your dog’s abilities.
I just know me. I don’t mind working to get to that “power steering” stage. Figure by the time a puppy is 2 years old, all that should be finished. Adulthood is working to your advantage, and the training now sticks.
I met one of my former student’s dogs a few months ago. They had gotten a puppy. The dog I had trained for them is still with them, now over 10 years old. Just the sweetest dog… very friendly, polite, super obedient, still playful. Yes, she’s developed some arthritis, her muzzle is grey, teeth are old but still there. But she will bring over a ball to see if you’ll toss it. I only toss it about 5 feet so she doesn’t have to run far. If you want to end the game, just tell her, and that’s that. If you want her to lay somewhere, point there and tell her, and she will go there. She’s great with the new puppy, no conflicts. Ask her to Come, she will. She can be off leash in front off the home (though I never recommend doing that because you can’t control what other people’s dogs might do to your dog if they get to your dog). She has no bad habits, none. Now, the puppy? Not so much. He’s still in the process of maturing and going through ongoing training. We took a pause in the lessons for the past couple of months because the wife had to have some major surgery, and that was going to take a number of months to heal. But, I know them, and they are training and enforcing all of the stuff we covered up until our break. We will start up again when they are ready.
I got a message from a past student today. We got about half way through their dog’s training, but they hit a financial barrier when the COVID shutdowns happened, had to conserve their funds, and had to pause his lessons. It’s been over a year. The wife told me they want to finish his training, and they are also now looking for a second dog, a female. We can mesh all of that, and when they are both fully trained, it will get a lot easier. Half trained dogs still have issues, whether behavioral or obedience. Getting them to that power steering stage makes all the hassles go away.
What do you want out of your relationship with your dog? I want power steering.