I love technology. It’s not intuitive for me and I have to work hard at understanding it. But overall, I think it’s fun. And it makes my life much easier. Alexa, Siri, Iphone, Mac, Air dropping, DropBox, Smart TV, Social Media, Webinars, Podcasts, Online Classes, YouTube channels, Amazon Prime (love!)…and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Everything is at our fingertips and happens in an instant. And it’s constantly changing, which means I’m always learning. According to Dr. Oz, as long as we keep learning, we can stave off Alzheimers. Works for me! However, as a result, we’ve all become increasingly impatient. Just today I caught myself getting irritated because I was depositing a check with my phone and it wasn’t going fast enough… yikes! That’s the danger of today’s world. We want everything and we want in NOW. Our attention span has diminished and patience is hard to come by. Our society in general is demanding, rushing, dissatisfied and irritable.
Many years ago, I used to race bicycles professionally. I went through a phase where I had lofty goals…and I wasn’t meeting them. I was frustrated, unhappy, training had become a chore, and races always left me disappointed. I was NOT having fun. One day I was complaining to my training partner and he said to me “You know what your problem is? You forgot why you started to ride. Why did you start racing?” “Well, because I love riding my bike,” I replied. He said, “That’s what you need to recapture.” Point made. I shifted my mindset and regained the joy I used to have when riding my bike for hours on end.
Our state of mind has a huge impact on dog training. It takes me on average 3-4 years to teach a dog to heel the way I like it. With attitude and accuracy. Holy cow, that’s a lifetime in today’s world! It takes years to teach a dog obedience exercises and engagement. Talk about a potentially frustrating, even maddening timeframe!! Not to mention that we have important goals to reach. Time is of the essence. We start looking for shortcuts. A quick fix. We become impatient. We switch to another sport. Or quit. Or blame it on the dog. Training becomes very serious. We become so focused on our goal that we miss the essence of dog training.
I started training my first dog because I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted a better relationship with him and to learn how to speak dog. I remember feeling absolute wonder when he learned the simplest things… wave, twist, spin, sit and down stay. The pride in achieving my first CD leg. The excitement of teaching the open exercises. And, oh my, that first set of articles!! They symbolized all the hard work I had done to reach the highest class. Each tiny step was a victory.
We should embrace training as a rare opportunity in today’s world to live in the present moment. To breathe, laugh and practice patience. To find joy in simple accomplishments.
Personally, I love the challenge of training, problem solving, making mistakes and learning from them. Trying different techniques, ways of teaching and explaining the behaviors I want to the dogs (and yes, occasionally a pig). I truly enjoy the journey. My training sessions are a combination of wonder and pride at what I have accomplished to date; mixed with curiosity and exploration to see how I can be a better trainer. Most importantly, I’m spending quality time with these amazing creatures we call dogs. Creatures that love us unconditionally, work tirelessly to navigate the often-confusing human world they in, and that are here to teach us to slow down, be present and enjoy the journey.