Everyday of the week i am either doing 121 sessions with clients and/or teaching classes. A lot of the time weather its reactivity, loose lead walking or simply recall that we are looking to work on in that session, the relationship needs improving between owner and dog, and from there comes better engagement.
This was reinforced for me particularly this weekend when i attended the North Somerset Agricultural show. I took my youngest dog, Gus, and of course there was lots of other dogs there too.
When i was deciding weather or not to take Gus, i was asking myself weather i just wanted to have a look around in peace, dog-less, or weather i had the time and energy to engage i what i would compare to an ongoing conversation the whole way around the show.
Im always one for a good training session so i decided i would take him, he has just turned two but this was his third time at the show as he came at 1 yr and also at 12 weeks. Not only does the show have livestock and tractors, there is also guns being fired, birds and ferrets, tractor pulling and LOTS of people and dogs, so its a challenge for any dog, even one that is pretty accustomed to it.
He did amazingly which made me really proud and appreciative of the well rounded dog that i have, but that was fuelled by our constant conversation of check-ins with each other, giving and receiving of support when something a little bit different came along.
Being at the show also made me realise how rare this communication is, and its almost annoying being a dog trainer sometimes as it makes you even more aware of when things aren't as good as they could be with other peoples dogs!
I saw a lot of dogs just being taken around the show on a lead, with little or no communication with their owners, two separate entities walking around some fields, literally only connected by the lead, and then when something suddenly happens, for example, two dogs bark at each other, all of a sudden the owners are engaged in telling their dogs off. It makes me wonder why there was no guidance what so ever up until this point and then the owners are shocked when their dog cant keep total self control for a second? We don't have total self control over everything we do so why do we expect our dogs too? A little communication between owner and dog in this situation may have been enough to pre empt this but now, instead of that , the dog has received a punishment, taking vast withdrawals from their "relationship bank account" and making the day out more stressful for dog and owner.
Its just something to think about, you wouldn't drag your small child around a similar show, and literally not say a word to them until they kick off because they are hungry/bored/tired?
FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIP AND FROM THERE COMES ENGAGEMENT - ITS THE ROOTS TO EVERY GOOD BEHAVIOUR.
Bryony is a qualified dog trainer from North Somerset.