Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail - part 1
We don’t go into exams without doing some practise papers and we don’t go into work presentations without preparing our speech so why do we expect our dogs to behave in scenarios without practising for those particular scenarios? Going to a big event with lots of dogs, people, noises, smells and distractions is leagues different from going for a stroll around your street with your dog - so our previous training will likely fail unless we prepare our dogs for these situations. Training should be proactive not reactive!
As I like to practise what I preach I’m going to share my training plans with Angus as I prepare him for attending the 4 day IMDT practical course with me in September. We will be travelling to Dublin from Carrickfergus, spending 4 days doing practical dog training around strange dogs and people, and spending 3 nights in a dog friendly hotel. For the majority of dogs this is pretty unusual and out of routine. Now I’d like to think I’ve done some nice training with Angus, that he’s fairly well rounded and so I could just say ah sure it’ll be fine and wing it. But I think that would be unfair to put him into those scenarios without preparing him for it, otherwise it could lead to stress and frustration on both our parts.
So in this first blog I’m going to look at what Angus will need to be able to do and cope with on our trip;
Happy to travel long distances in the car (2.5 hours roughly)
Happy to travel in a different car (taking the other car to Dublin)
Happy to stay, relax and sleep in the car or a crate between practical training sessions
Happy to both settle down and work around strangers and their dogs
Happy to both settle down and work in an outdoor environment
Happy to walk through a hotel environment
Happy to settle and be quiet while I eat dinner
Happy to settle and be quiet in a bar/restaurant environment
Happy to settle, be quiet and sleep in a hotel room
You’ll notice that every bullet point starts with the word “Happy” - this is because most of all I want Angus to be happy and comfortable with these scenarios, not just under my “control”. The more our dogs are happy and comfortable with the scenarios that we put them into then the more likely our dogs will be able to respond to our training - stressed or unhappy dogs will not respond to training anywhere near as well, they are not able to learn in that frame of mind.
So how do we accomplish all of this? Next time I’ll be covering my overall training plan in high level detail. Then I’ll cover each section in further blogs and hopefully get some videos up of our training so you can follow along with our progress and maybe even join in with us!
Our 6 week training courses have already started in Carrickfergus but if you’d like to do some training with your dog our next set of puppy and adult classes in Carrickfergus will be starting Friday 23rd March (Book your dog's spot here) , we offer 1-2-1 training in your own home, solo training walks and we are looking into holding drop in classes in Newtownabbey on a Saturday morning. Get in touch if you’d like to book any of our services!