Kids and young adults are great students when learning to obedience train their dog or puppy.
I am not sure if it is because they are still close to the school experience and used to following direction or if it is because their minds have not been as cluttered with life’s disappointments. Perhaps they simply take things at face value better than most adults.
What ever the case, they tend to do a great job communicating with their dogs and acting in the moment to correct problems or reward successes as they occur. There is no over analyzation, just action and progress.
Case in point, this week I was working with Josh and his pup Maxine. Josh found Maxine wandering the streets and decided to keep her. Cleaned her up, got her to the vet and brought her in for training. Because he is on a pretty slim budget, he is doing our pay as you go obedience training program. This kid has made no excuses, he just comes in with cash when he can afford the next lesson.
He came in for lesson number two and I found he had followed all of the directions to help Maxine overcome her hesitation of walking on leash, worked nicely on her recall. taught her to respect personal space by not jumping up and didn’t panic when introducing her to other dogs and she would get a little defensive. He just kept moving like I had instructed him.
We began to teach Maxine the place command (where she has to remain on a dog bed until given permission to leave it) He grasped the concept very quickly, as did Maxine and 10 minutes into the practice he exited the room and went outside to see if Maxine would stay on her bed as told. The amazing thing about that is I never told him to do it. He just took the initiative on his own. Normally I wouldn’t ask anyone to go to that level of distraction (actually leaving the room) in the first learning session, but I held my tongue and just watched. And the dog got off her bed once and he came back and put her back on. And the next time she was successful and he praised her.
Josh exemplifies a great rule of training: Keep it simple. He holds a high expectation of what his dog is capable of and keeps it clear what the objectives are. No lamentations of how she was a poor stray and I wonder what happen to her and she must have been abused…….none of that useless worrying. He never unloads any hesitation or insecurity to his dog. He just accepts what is in the moment and acts accordingly.
Maxine could not have a better and more clear leader in her life. And I could not have a better student. The joy of seeing someone who *gets it* in understanding their dog’s needs is complete bliss.
I expect Josh and Maxine will have many fantastic adventures together and they don’t need me around to hold their hand because the bond is perfectly balanced already.