“Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try.”
Given the fact that the new Star Wars movie opens this week, I thought I’d pay homage to one of my favorite Yoda lines from The Empire Strikes Back. That statement rings true to so many situations in life and most certainly applies to dog training.
Either you train your dog, or you don’t. Either your dog comes when called, or he doesn’t. If the dog comes to you “sometimes” then the dog training is not complete, the dog is not truly trained. If you want to maintain reliable dog training then there isn’t room for anything in-between.
The same goes for any of the commands or expectations we want our dogs to learn. In order to have a reliably trained dog, the training has to get to the point where the dog listens regardless of the distractions present.
This means that when we decide to train our dogs, we must commit to doing, not just “trying.” It is a mindset, and I think this is where many people get stuck. They are willing to tell their dog what to do, but not always willing to enforce those expectations.
Being willing to implement change takes effort. It might mean walking out into the yard in the pouring rain because you told your dog to come in and instead he’s still meandering and sniffing. It might mean leaving the dinner table to put the dog back in his bed because you’re teaching him to remain in his “Place” while you eat dinner. It might even mean you have to get up from the table several times.
It means that if you’re teaching loose lead walking that you no longer allow the dog to forge forward on the leash. You might not get far on some of the early walks, but you’re committed to saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Doing is about follow through.
Now you might be formulating your rebuttal to this thought process and coming up with a list of “buts”…. Understand that there are occasions when I don’t waste my breath telling my dogs something. Especially the little-redheaded Diva. Believe me, the force is strong in that one!
There are times I know I’m not willing to get off the couch to enforce an expectation. After a long day, I am very aware of my own limitations, so I think before I speak. Plus, I am willing to manage if need be to prevent bad habits from reinforcing themselves. But again, that is doing, rather than just giving it a half-hearted try by saying something and then not following through.
So the next time you are about to give your dog a command remember to either “Do. Or Do Not.”