Anyone Can Train Their Dog
By Art Hess
A Chat with Irvin
A while back I was sitting in the park enjoying the day and contemplating all the good stuff about my life with dogs when my old buddy Irvin came and sat beside my foot. During our chat I observed that actually dogs and people were pretty much the same and Irvin said that normally he wouldn’t disagree but I was way off base with this one. He went on to point out that dogs live in the present and aren’t judgmental. Dogs don’t careabout what you used to be or where you’ve lived or visited or who you know or knew. They don’t judge you by your color or your opinion about politics or religion.
No, they just live in the present and love, trust, and respect you based entirely on who you are and how you act today. Forget yesterday and we’ll worry about tomorrow when we get there.
And then Irvin went on and said “Since you opened this can of worms there’s something else that is the pebble in my shoe and really gets me where the sun don’t shine. You people think that any animal or other person or country for that matter that does things differently or has different beliefs of what is right or wrong, should do things exactly your way or else it’s wrong.
Just because we do things that are natural to us like digging, chewing, barking, licking, or humping, but different from what you think we should do, it’s automatically wrong and you’re going to make us do it your way. On top of that you say we should change but you don’t show us what you want or how we should do it, just do it. Like your way or the highway.”
Then he went on to say, “You know if you showed us what you want and how to do it and gave us a reason to do it and made it fun and told us when we did it right maybe things would be easier for both of us. Anyway, sorry to carry on but we’re buddies and I just thought you’d like to see things from our side. Gotta go, there’s trees for me to smell, we’ll have to chat again.”
As I sat there and reflected on Irvin’s comments I was reminded of some thoughts I read by an old time trainer who said “forget the problems and train the solution.” He said quit nagging your dog about what you don’t like and start teaching him what you do like. Show him what you want. Break it down into small easy to learn pieces. Set yourself up to succeed and start in a quiet environment with no distractions. Make it fun and reward for doing what you want him to do. When you’ve got it right, reward and repeat.
Sounds like a winner to me. But wait, isn’t that exactly what Irvin was talking about? Damn, I love that smart little booger. Maybe we should spend a little more time learning from our dogs. And then I was reminded of a time when Irvin looked at me and winked and said, “You know, God is just Dog spelled backwards.”
“The key to life is not accumulation. It’s contribution.”