Thursday, April 24, 2014

Training: On Our Progress

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”
― Thomas Edison

As I've mentioned a few times, we've taken Barry through a little professional training. The first was a basic obedience class along with a handful of other dogs at Pet Smart. The class was helpful and informative. It was a good foundation for two people who had no clue. We took the basic training class (giving treats to reward good behavior, how to hold the leash, etc.). We really didn't get that we would reward Barry with treats or show him how to do stuff for treats. I think we thought we knew but until it was shown to us, we just didn't know. We also learned how to better hold a leash. We learned repetition and consistency is key.

Then we worked with Barry on our own for a while with the tools we were given from the trainer at Pet Smart. We streamed YouTube videos on how to get your dog to walk with you and how not to be so reactive. We queried our neighbors, friends, and dog walker on their opinions about certain behavior. Progress is slow and brutal at times. I mean most all types of progress. Think about moving up in your job, losing weight, saving up enough for retirement, women's rights, etc. Those are (and have been) slow processes that we can all relate to! Just like training a dog. It won't happen over night. We are still working with Barry and it's been over four months.

I know what this must look like but before you say anything I just need to tell
you that the paper attacked me first!
Anyhow, you know how it is. You get frustrated with the process. Things are taking too long and you get lazy. What is the easy way out? Buy what you need and it will be the answer you've been looking for. The quick fix. The easy way out.
“Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” ― Robert A. Heinlein
I don't necessarily totally put my faith in that quote as Mr. Heinlein was a science fiction writer (albeit a very good one). I just think it's funny and definitely has some truth to it, no? It does make you think that perhaps being lazy isn't too bad sometimes? Sometimes? Okay, whatever...

Circling back to Barry; We plateaued with training. We weren't progressing quickly enough and began looking into trainers, more obedience courses, behaviorists, etc. I've already written all about that process here.

The trainer that we went with was recommended to us and she has been fantastic. I mean it.  Barry has responded so well to all that we've learned. She has taught us so much and recommended to us things that we will take with us for Barry's lifetime. With all that said, hiring a trainer to come to our home and work with us and Barry wasn't the quick fix I might have ignorantly thought it was going to be. I do not regret hiring her to help us. She has been the best asset to us for understanding Barry and progressing with him during training thus far. So this progress thing isn't going to be easy. There is no easy way out or quick fix. We can be lazy if we choose and progress will stall, nothing will change.
“People who want a cure, provided they can have it without pain, are like those who favour progress, provided they can have it without change.”
― Anthony de Mello, Awareness: A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words
 I think in the end, all this training talk aside, we want the best life for Barry and we want to thoroughly enjoy our time with him. He means the world to Husband and me. We want to take him everywhere, show him off, and be near him. There are sprinkles of moments each day that we have individually with Barry where we see how much he loves us. He is quite the unique soul and we love him for it. We feel one of the best ways we can incorporate him in our life as much as possible is to show him what we need of him (walk next to us, less leash reactivity towards other dogs, etc.) so the training part is necessary but it is secondary. It will be a process that will be slow but he's already made leaps and bounds of progress in such a short time. This has all been worth it.

I wuv you daddy.

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