Are we there yet???

Parents can relate to these cringe worthy words… ‘Are we there yet….’

5mins into a hour journey, the phrase known worldwide, chimes from the back seat, and at that moment you wonder if leaving your child at a services, with a bag of clothing and a label, is a justifiable option… For those reading, apparently it’s illegal… I’ve looked into it…

Isn’t it frustrating to be traveling with someone so focused on the destination that they aren’t stopping to take the sights surrounding them? Or appreciate the extensive array of snacks and games you’ve prepared to ease the inevitable monotony or a journey that doesn’t always bring instant gratification?

Well, imagine how your dog feels? Are you constantly asking ‘Are we there yet??’, to your dog, who is going at the speed that is appropriate for their learning and progressing on the journey YOU choose for them, as fast as they are capable?

I am a huge advocate of having goals. I have goals for my life, year, dogs, daughter, business, students… BUT I have learnt that goals need to be flexible. A good friend and students says, ‘Goals should be set in stone, and plan’s should be in sand’.

This mantra truly resonates with how we SHOULD be approaching our grand and extraordinary ambitions, but often we are so focused on the end, that we forget to observe the process, and take stock of ‘wins’, along the way.

The other pitfall that can await, is trying to rush or force the process. I shared a meme this week, which read ‘A novice handler want to work on intermediate training, and intermediate handler wants to work on advanced training, but an advanced handler works on basics’.

This is one of the biggest lessons that newbie handlers to any sport can slip into. The enthusiasm to reach the summit of the mountain, they glance over fundamental pieces that will inevitably haunt them further down the line.

We have all been there… the basics can be, in truth… boring! Lets be honest. They aren’t often sexy or flashy, they are sometimes bland and laborious. But, as with anything, its all about your foundations.

The simplicity of training a solid ‘SIT’ that can be cued, anywhere, anytime and no matter what you do, may sound simple but is a skill often over looked.

I train a ‘settle’ which is a cue that means ‘hang out there’ whilst I do something. There is nothing eye catching or ‘wow’ about this cue. It just is my dog waiting for me. Thats it. Waiting patiently, and calmly, whilst I talk to someone or wait for a dog to pass, or before I go to compete, or whilst getting feedback from a peer… without constant reinforcement, without repeating cues, without consideration that my dog will leave that position. The list is endless to its uses. But its basic. Its boring to ‘train’ in comparison to flashy heelwork, or independent weaves or bitework… but underpins all the above.

The thing to remind yourself is, just work on the pieces. Train them thoroughly, so that your dog has so much confidence and clarity, that they can do it despite you… stop asking ‘Are we there yet?’ Stop thinking about ‘what is the next step’ before mastering the first….And pay attention to the sights in front of you. By doing so, the journey will fly by and when you reach your destination, you’ll be ready to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

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