Feel and Timing: The only dog obedience tools that we really need

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Feel and Timing:

A tool is a tool. It doesn't matter the quality of a hammer or drill, it matters the quality of the craftsman.

I can pick up that drill, and do a fairly disastrous job of making kitchen cupboards. But hand that drill over to a skilled craftsman, and they will all look a whole lot better. Is it the drill that was flawed? Should I buy a different brand? 

Dog training tools are the same. It doesn't matter if you use a halti, no pull harness, buckle collar, pinch collar, clicker, or whatever you want to use to teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash. If your skills are lacking, so will the end behaviour be. Trying to buy bigger and better tools isn't going to help you until you look inwards and realize that it is indeed you, yourself, who is lacking the skills. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they are truly exceptions!

This is the fascinating part of dog training. All come to me needing skills, but many are unwilling to work on themselves. They expect the dog to change, transform, while they stay the same. It doesn't work that way. Your relationship with your dog is just that; a relationship. What you do will affect what he does. 

But change is difficult for us. It is stressful. It requires us admitting flaws, and being vulnerable. If we rise to the occasion in training our partners, we will end up better people. However, it really is much easier to either a) stuff more food in the dog's face, or b) pound on the dog some more. 

Have some people lost the ability to dig deep, to improve themselves? 

Some days when I look around, I feel that the art of dogmanship is becoming a lost art. I see my peers, who are veterans in dogs, and they all possess what I speak of. They might all be different from each other in the tools that they use, but they are craftsman. They can take the equivalent of an old, rotten piece of wood and with love, and pride, turn it into something beautiful. 

So please remember, it isn't the tool, it is you. 

Can you calm your mind? Can you loosen and control your muscles, and control your breath? Do you have the right feel on the leash, for each dog that you work with? 

If not, it is time to work on your dogmanship.

Monique Anstee
Victoria, BC

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