My trinity of dog training

Stefanie Jernej (Intern)



August-September-October-November-December-January ... 6 months full of variety

Half a year, six months, 184 days ... at first glance you think it's such a long period. Then you start and do and do and it starts to run and at some point, it develops such a momentum of its own and in the end, it is simply way too fast over. This is what happened to me when I was recording data for my master's thesis.

I would like to share a few thoughts and personal tips regarding dog training with you.

The three most important qualities you have to bring along are:

Perseverance, patience and adaptability.

I would like to explain those three qualities on the basis of my training, which I have completed with the trainer dogs. During my training, the dogs, eight in number, had to learn a task that was completely new to them. Since there are many former WSC dogs among the trainers' private dogs, they have of course already made a lot of experiences with new situations and, above all, learning in general. It is very exciting to observe their different characters and approaches during training. One is totally excited and out of round, almost cocky with the joy of the upcoming training, the other is much more relaxed about the whole thing. I have to say, I am very happy and a little proud that all the dogs liked the training with me very much and they enjoyed participating with great enthusiasm.

Perseverance ... six months of training until, four out of eight eventually have successfully completed the training. That is the result, from a neutral perspective. The pessimistic observer would now probably say: what, only half made it? The optimistic observer would formulate the whole thing a bit more euphorically, unbelievably it was possible for four out of eight dogs to achieve the very ambitious training goal, the solution of this extremely complex task.

Patience ... one of them is a total workaholic, also called nerd by humans, who waits impatiently until everything is finally set up and prepared at some point, after a felt eternity, which in reality only corresponds to a few minutes before start. The other takes the time he needs, checks the situation once, sniffs the entire enclosure, leaves one or the other notes of his own scent to make a statement for those who want to be informed later on. Of course, the fine dog's nose does not miss a single overlooked treat that is hidden somewhere in the farthest corner. When all the new impressions have been absorbed and processed, the will to work appears and the training can then begin when the dog is ready. There is no point in getting impatient and trying to get the dog to cooperate and train too early, because it will not bring the desired success if the attention is not yet there and the willingness to learn is not yet present. Therefore, take your time and the result will be much better than wanting to achieve something by force.

Adaptability ... eight dogs, eight characters, eight different training and learning types. You have to adjust to each individual and make sure that you adapt and adjust the training so that it fits everyone as good as possible and no one has the feeling that it´s boring, it's no fun, it´s stupid and they don't want to participate anymore. You should try to avoid this point. There were two dogs in my training group that didn't participate through to the end, but it just wouldn't have made any sense to either of them. Because if the dog does not see any sense in solving the task, but perhaps only together with you, which was not possible in our setup and task, then simply gives up resignedly and does nothing at all, it no longer makes any sense to continue training. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and not everyone has to be able to do everything, that's the same with people and dogs.

Thus, my take-home message for all dog owners and of course for those who want to become one too, is to not get discouraged. Good things take time. This saying also applies 100% to dog training. If you really get into it, it is an absolute enrichment for both sides. Not only the dogs do enjoy when you spend time with them and work on new tasks, tricks, problems and exercises and, by the way, the bond and trust in the human-dog relationship are strengthened and promoted. But also the person expands and improves his/her soft skills which can be an advantage in interpersonal dealings as well as in the world of work.