I had the pleasure today of teaching two handlers, both owners of working cocker spaniels, one black, one liver.
It was lovely to see the fruits of their labours: both dogs have improved beyond recognition since we started just a few weeks ago. Both handlers have stuck to the programme and practiced being perfect!
Quite often, we encounter handlers who are frustrated at the apparent lack of progress or inability of their dogs to progress in their training: “we train him 3 times a day, every day and he still won’t retrieve / recall / sit stay etc”.
But, like any skill, the more we practice doing something in the wrong way, the more we become better and better at doing things wrong. Nowhere is this more true than with dog training.
Of course, it isn’t really the dogs that have improved: all they have done is to respond to a new regime. It is the handlers who have acquired and then applied the skills to channel their dogs’ natural abilities.
We shouldn’t really call ourselves dog trainers: in reality we are people trainers!