Tuesday, December 16, 2008


last night after a convo in chat, i wanted to bring some things up, and here seemed like a good place.

im not going to use names, so the person does not need to respond if they dont want to, and does not need to even address the issue at all. there were just a few things that i dont feel i was getting across very well, and i didnt want them to come across like i was accusing the person of being a poor trainer.

most people screw up their first dog - this is just a fact of life. very few people can say that their first dog was a godsend, that their first dog was an easy dog and make no mistakes. most people are not born natural trainers and things just come perfectly to them - and very few people have the combos of that perfect first dog and being a wonderful trainer in one situation - so the end result is you end up making lots of mistakes with your first dog - going to bad trainers, deciding which methods you do or do not want to use, scrapping this one for that one, finding out that you wish you hadn't done that 2 years ago as a puppy, wishing you had done this, vowing to do that with your next dog. wishing that your next pup will carry around scent articles as a pup, will start directed jumping, will start puppy scent pads at 7 weeks old, will be doing rag work at 9 weeks old, will be socialized with men at least 3 times a week, etc. its easy to view in hindsight what you could do better to fix your current dog.

without going through and making those mistakes on the other dog, you're missing out on that. if there are things that aren't right with your current dog, its not necessarily because your current dog cant give it - sometimes its because we havent been able to bring them out in the dog. hes a young dog, and he isnt done maturing. if he sometimes gives you flash and drive, then he can give it to you more - you just have to focus on it. being a trainer is being able to bring that out. it may just be me personally, i dont buy being a trainer is trading dogs until you get the best dog out there - being a real trainer is training the dog you have in front of you and learning what you have from what dog you have - because sometimes if you dont learn those lessons there, you may just be doomed to repeat them (yeah, santana). if your next pup only offers you intermittent attention and drive, what then? sometimes our dogs issues come from us - i know a woman who got a new dog because her last one worked with poor attention and focus. guess what, so does this one - she is the common denominator. It's why having good trainers is important, too. im not saying dont get a puppy, not at all - but if competitive obedience is your goal, my advice would be to take your current dog as far as you can before you try it with another dog just to get experience.

if you want flash, have flash. but there's a reason some dogs have flash and some dogs dont - and dont get a dog and expect that it wil have flash and be disappointed when it doesnt. some dogs are born flashy - goldens and mals just have it - and why? its structure - its the angle of the front and the neck placement. goldens and mals are born flashy heelers. its what they are - its what they give. goldens and mals will give you flashy heeling even in a slow, even on a fig8. all the time. they just will. that doesnt make them better dogs. it makes their front end structure different than a dobes. me? im a short girl, and my dogs simply dont have to move out that much to heel with me - they are never going to have to float that much on their front end to give me that, anyway - id have to be running to get it on any dog over 24 inches, and that's the sad truth. give me a shorter dog and i could get floating flash, but on a dobe i will likely never have it. but its all excess, and excess isn't what is scored in the ring. in fact, it can be a detractor.

last year watching the national obedience invitational, i watched a younger person complain on a board that the winner (who i believe was a two time winner) wasn't flashy and didn't deserve the win. this dog is a multiple OTCH (meaning it has well over the 100 points necessary to deserve that title in the US - the US OTCH is much different than the canadian OTCH), and the dog is nothing if not a steady, steady competitor. flashy isn't always desireable. that dog is perfect, and maybe it doesn't float on it's front end when it heels, but it maintains perfect position and loses almost no points on any exercise and does so repeatably. isn't that what counts???????

maybe its hypocritical of me - i didnt wait long enough for berlin. i wish i had - i didnt go out looking for her, but she found me and i couldnt pass her up- i wasnt WAITING for a puppy, but her breeding took place and it was too good to be true. but ideally i would have her come to me NOW, not last year. i likely wont be getting another dog in this house for 3-4 years from now, unless its a senior rescue - because i need the solid foundation (and i want the foundation to go up through utility) on them.

this isnt even going into whether i think you need european lines to do obedience (i dont). but thats for a different post.


Lexxsmom said...

i have no idea what sparked this post, but i have to agree with you 100%.

i know as a first time dog owner/trainer...that i am disappointed in MYSELF. I tend to be good at things... dog training is not something that comes easily to me, but i'm still trying and still learning and of course i get frustrated, but i think I'm lucky that lexx forgives me my mistakes, my incompetence and loves me anyways.

one day, i'll have the experience to have a high level obedience dog. Or at least the ability to take my dog as far as we can go.

manymuddypaws said...

good post. I agree. But yet I still have four dogs. Sigh. :o)

Jules said...

Good post. All our dogs are meant to teach us something and if you, the trainer, keep ending up with the *same* dog than I don't think you've learned the lesson yet. Kind of like karma in a way.

Jen said...

I absolutely agree with you about the "first dog". Mackenzie and I get the strangest looks when we are hanging around the obedience ring. "Oh, you're doing obedience with a DACHSHUND? Well GOOD LUCK." They always laugh.

Mackenzie is my first (personal) dog (since we've always had family dogs), and God knows I made every mistake possible with her, but here we are. She is 5yo and just now getting into the ring.
And then here comes Audrey, my show prospect, bounding into my life unexpectedly. She is currently 11wks old and is already being clicker trained for Conformation and Obedience. We are working on socialization and training nearly every night and she is catching on quicker than I thought possible. Although everything is going great so far, I have no doubts that I will make mistakes with her too. But that's why one of the many things I love about dog sports is (obviously) taking on the challenge of training and competing with the non-traditional breeds.

M.T. said...

Kim, thanks so much for taking the time to write this post!! :) You make very good and valid points!

I have to say, that you came in in the middle of quite a lengthy conversation that spanned several topics and subjects, and the issue of getting a new dog with the expectation that it will be perfect and cover for all existing trainer flaws was not and never the issue at all. I could see how you arrived at that impression given when you arrived in the conversation :)

Also, there was no issue about the whole european vs american Dobe either. Not even a point of contention in the conversation.

Regardless, i value your input and was glad you stopped by in chat and put forth your views ... sorry your computer was acting up, i could feel your frustration!

I have so much to learn!

elegy said...

Interesting post.

I made so many mistakes with Luce, but she taught me SO FREAKING MUCH. I am endlessly grateful to her because she was a very hard dog for me in the beginning, and I never would have learned all I did if she'd been easy. It breaks my heart that her knees suck so hard, still, because we have finally reached the point where we could go somewhere and do something. She's no OTCH dog, but she can show up and do a respectable job. Except she can't sit because it hurts.

I worry that I got Steve too soon. Part of my getting him was borne of frustration, absolutely. That's probably not the best reason to get a dog. And I'm sure I'll have trials and tribulations with him. I'll have attention problems because I breed attention problems :p But I hope that we will have fun.