Why do you go to class, any class? To learn? To practice? To see friends? There are probably a lot of reasons.
Why does your dog go to class? To learn? To practice? To see friends? Well, in all honesty he goes because you took him there. 🙂
For many of us class time is fun time. As a student I’ve always been really bad about practicing or studying at home but I always went to class because I love learning. It’s also a time to put away the day-to-day things we have to deal with, not think about what stresses us and just be with our friends and our dogs. I’m one of those people who is really OK if exercises don’t go as planned as long as I feel supported by my instructor. Try something for the first time? Make a fool of myself? Sure, why not? If it helps my dog I can do that. I’ve been around dog training enough to not have such high expectations of perfection that I can’t laugh at myself once in awhile. (Besides, remember what I said before: “Dogs were put on this earth to humble us!” 😉 )
Having said that, it is nice to have a balance between advancing our knowledge and working more simple skills so we can be even better at them. After conquering some really hard problems or challenging scenarios practicing things we already know can be a confidence boost for us and for our dogs. It’s very freeing. We all want to advance but if we’re constantly giving our dogs hard problems isn’t there a risk of pushing too hard, getting frustrated and not enjoying it any longer?
I attended an Agility seminar today with my young dog, “Story.” She is very fast and very smart and has great potential which is only limited by me as her handler. We were mentally stretched a bit, practiced some really challenging things for us and then at the end of the day we had a very simple course where the dogs could just RUN! Wheeeeee!! Now that was fun! I really enjoyed the day and felt like I learned a lot with the skill building portion of the exercises but that last run felt so good!
Why not do that for our K9 Nose Work dogs?
I’ll leave you with a parting quote from my friend and business partner who also happens to be my instructor, Amy Herot, who said this to our class just last week: “Just because your dog is good at it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice it.” I think she’s on to something there. 😉
Happy Sniffing! 🙂