I Wish I Knew…

I so wish I knew….

This is the one statement I hear time and time again when I’m out on the road training in other venues.

Often when I’m talking about an exercise or giving a demonstration that just seems like second nature to me now I hear gasps and sighs of “If only i’d known that when” or “Why on earth didn’t I think to try that”…

5 years ago I’d probably be saying the same thing but you can learn oh so much in 5 years and if you are anything like me I strive to keep learning…I am always a student first and a teacher second. you are never too experienced or too knowledgeable or too old to learn something new!

The thing is, it’s not like any of these things are closely guarded secrets held in some maximum security vault somewhere…a lot of the time it’s all about letting yourself be exposed to new things, opening yourself up to the opportunity of more creative concepts and novel ideas.

There is no getting away from it though…if only I’d known some of the things I know today 5 years ago I might have saved myself a whole lot of time and searching for the answer.

So here is my call to you…I want you to share with us and the rest of the readers one thing that….”If only i’d done/known that 5 years ago”

We believe that the more we all share the more we can all grow together…this can only be a good thing right?

  • Holly

    I didn’t even have a dog 5 years ago. Wished I had known what I was

  • Anthea Rocker

    The importance of the release cue and IYC.

  • Chris

    The importance of having fun with your dog – playing with your dog – being ‘silly’ with your dog. It helps to build a good relationship which helps towards building the foundations for a wonderful partnership. I feel it is also important to have boundaries and be CONSISTENT with your requests. It is also useful to teach your dog ‘how’ to learn and to make the learning FUN, FUN, FUN !!!

  • I would like to help clients bond strongly with their pup or dog before anything else. To start that ball rolling, I find things I really love about their puppy or dog, such as exuberance or curiosity or the way the pup looks at me or looks at his owner, or the beautiful fur and puppy smell, puppy feet. I really, really want owners to see and feel and touch what they love about their puppy and build on that real love (rather than a fantasy they had before adopting a puppy). that will be the foundation of everything else: play and teaching, and learning body language of each other, and caring for/husbandry, etc. That bond is most important…because new puppies or rescued dogs come with big challenges, and without that bond, those challenges can just be too much for an owner. With that bond, that love that binds can bring patience and commitment .

  • Anna Lawrie

    I wish I knew…. the concept of rewarding good choices. It has been a step change in the way I teach my dogs so many different things. I would also say to really truly enjoy things you do with your dog from the heart. Don’t worry about getting things wrong at times……we all do that.

  • Anne

    I just started competing this past September. For me, it’s all about the fun! The fun of practicing, class time, competing etc. whether it is a good or not so good. It’s all about having fun “playing” with my Ginger!

  • Debbie Dust

    I wish I knew….that I didn’t need to be so serious – also that there is more than one “right” way to train something and to trust myself and listen to my dog.

  • Ann McGloon

    I have learned so much in the last five years that it’s near impossible to pick just one thing. The one constant though is to enjoy the time you have with your dog. Invest in the relationship. Invest in the relationship. Yes, I wrote that twice on purpose. Laugh, giggle, learn together cause the process of learning never stops.

  • For me and my students. .ENJOY..enjoy your puppy…enjoy the learning..i do..just like absolute dogs do..very good video Lauren ..

  • Jillity

    Play with your dog and build a really close bond.

  • Wendy Roydhouse

    Reward your mistakes! Every dog is different. Trust your instincts about what is right for your dog.

  • Jenny Schram

    I got my first dog three years ago, I had no idea how intelligent or emotionally responsive she would be. I wish I had known about the theory behind positive reinforcement dog training, phrases such as building value etc. When I found Karen Pryor and Shaping Success and then Absolute Dogs it all made sense. Most importantly, enjoy and interact with your dog, and don’t feel guilty when you don’t have time to train, just do something fun together!

  • Barb Duke

    Exactly what you shared. Invest in and enjoy the relationship with your dog. It’s the foundation of good positive training, in obedience, heelwork to music and other performance sports as well as agility, and at the end of the day, when you can’t play agility with that dog any more, whether because you lose that dog tragically or as I’m just doing now, you retire your older Masters dog from competition at 13, that’s what you have left – in life and in memories. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Helen Hubbard

    I would share – enjoy yourself and your dogs. Agility is meant to be fun. If you succeed and win …great. If you stay at grade 1 for your entire career who cares… it is fun, your enjoy it, your dogs enjoy it and if, like me, you also work full-time the time spent together for the day or weekend is magic. so simply ENJOY YOUSELVES AND YOUR FURRY RIENDS.

  • Rose

    Have fun, play together, but the one thing I wish I had known was rewarding calm behaviours and rewarding for doing nothing.

  • Debbie Prince

    My first dog in adulthood is now 4.5 years old and is the only dog I have had since a my single dog as a child. I also now have a second dog and wish I had got them years and years ago! Such fun, sense of achievment when they do well, comfort when i am sad. Wish i was younger! I realise now how much I don’t know but am enjoying learning with my dogs! My advice would be have fun, love them, and consistency…….

  • Kelly Shoff Baker

    Build the relationship first! That is my main concern now when teaching, and wished I learned that a long time ago with my own dogs. I focused more on what my dogs ‘could/should’ do rather than really enjoying them for who they are! Now we laugh more, play more, and will sneak in FUN cues! Build a dog that WANTS to work WITH you not FOR you! Make learning fun for both of you! Just as they are teaching children today……..learning while playing!

  • Ronit

    If the dog is not responding to you, don’t take it personally(: there are many factors involved. Take a deep breath &

  • Kathy Weston

    To build focus in the relationship (still working on this) and make training play. The play and joy help build the focus and relationship. Way better than having to be heavy handed.
    Thank you and Tom for all of the ideas and information you make available. It is really helpful.

  • Sarah Plant

    How important it is to realise that everything we do with our dogs should all be about having fun with them. Its the best way for everyone to learn and to build that all important relationship in everything that we do 🙂

  • penny spencer

    The most important thing for me is wanting to keep a smile on my dog’s face, even if I get it wrong time and again during training or on the course at a show, no negative vibes at all – that is what I would like to pass on to someone taking agility up as a newby. I think the biggest thing you can learn from agility is how to be a good sport and our dogs are so good at teaching us this !!

  • 5spaniels

    I so agree with those of you who say to build a strong relationship with your dog. Shortly after I got a new puppy 18 months ago, I lost my grade 6 dog. I blamed myself for not noticing that she was poorly because I was tied up with the puppy. I became very depressed & all but rejected the puppy. By the time I came to my senses the damage was done. Although I adore him now there is not that bond between us that had with all my other dogs. I have started competing with him now. How are we doing? 12 runs 12

  • 5spaniels

    That should read 12 runs 12 eliminations!

  • Heidi N Poppie

    Have faith in yourself and your dog, have fun after allmots about enjoying the journey not just about reaching the destination.

  • Ellie Haines

    If you’re bored, chances are so is your dog. If you’re stressed, chances are so is your dog. If you’re loving the training, the play, the fuss, the interaction and the Eureka Moments, chances are so is your dog!!
    So keep it fun & enjoyable and your dog will come back for more & more every time 😀

  • Ruth Hambrey

    ….that I could have helped my highly anxious dog much sooner by knowing about how to develop calmness. It’s still a work in progress, but we have come a long way.

  • Cathy Withall

    Play with your dog and learn to understand them – if you know what makes them happy, what makes them miserable or afraid, you have the first steps in how to make their lives (and yours!) happier and more secure, and they will love you for it and respond to you. Make training part of everyday life, fun and games, and be patient – it will pay off! I wish I had known about separation anxiety with our last dog who we lost in 2013 at nearly 14 years old – I could have made her life so much better.

    At times with our current girl I have despaired at ever training her to recall and focus on me – we did a recall course at Devon Dogs last autumn, I kept up the games and training but it just didn’t seem to be working. But last weekend we had a lovely morning on the beach, off lead, great recall and great with other dogs we met. Then when she got a 3rd in ‘Most obedient’ at a show on Saturday you could have knocked me down with a feather! So proud of her, and my thanks to Devon Dogs for their help along the way – our journey is really on its way now 🙂

  • Peggy A Sidewater

    Choose your trainer/ person you go to for advice with care because their attitude to your dog or your problems with that dog will so effect the way you see that dog and your future with it..

  • Francisca

    For me its keeping my sessions short and sharp, to only start my training sessions with 10 treats in my bowl and not to over do anything. Finish with lots of laughter and fun if possible. 🙂