Think about the last time you tried to master a new skill or hobby. Ideally, consider a topic that you had no prior knowledge of, and that required a large investment of your time in order for you to succeed at it.
You probably started off enthused – eager to get to grips with your new endeavor. Perhaps in the early weeks and months, you made significant headway towards your end goal.
Then, maybe you hit a roadblock or two that stalled your progress. There may have been factors out of your control that set you back a little, or elements that you hadn’t fully considered at the outset.
At that point, your efforts with your new hobby could go one of two ways.
If you throw in the towel after any setback, evidently, you’re never going to achieve your goals.
By contrast, if you keep working and overcome these hurdles, your persistence is typically rewarded with the satisfaction of achieving more than you could have ever imagined. It is all about keeping your end goal in sight and working towards it.
Believe it or not, there are parallels between a human learning a new skill and the world of dog training. The core principles of dog training remain the same, but no two dogs are exactly alike. After the initial burst of enthusiasm for training your dog, there are often barriers which have to be overcome in order for your training goals to be achieved. As dog trainers, we cannot afford to throw in the towel – the art of persistence is a trait of many successful dog trainers.
The value of time in dog training
It has often been said that time is the most valuable commodity. One common refrain is that you need to invest 10,000 hours of your time to truly master a new skill.
Now, we’re not suggesting that it will take 10,000 hours to reach your dog training goals – whether it’s simply teaching your dog to perform basic obedience commands, or you’re working towards a specific discipline like scent work or search and rescue. However, it makes sense to realize that there is a correlation between time – that is, quality time – and successful outcomes in learning a new skill.
What is quality time, though?
Let’s go back to the original scenario we outlined in this article. You are mastering your new skill, and you are putting in relentless hours of study to learn about it.
During your journey, there will be times when your concentration will be tested. The words on the page will start to run together. Your brain will be fuzzy, overwhelmed from the amount of information you are asking it to absorb. Learning will become almost impossible, and your enjoyment levels will plummet.
Now, let’s apply the same thought process to dog training.
Dogs can only absorb so much in a single training session. Their attention span and enthusiasm will dwindle as the session progresses. Trying to teach them everything you want them to know in the course of an eight-hour day is not going to work – it is the equivalent of the words running together on the page. Even two or three hours can be difficult. Dogs cannot maintain their focus for that long.
This is why we believe the concept of quality time in dog training is so important. Dog training has to be fun – for your dog, for you as an owner, and for your trainer. All three parties have to be fully invested and enthusiastic about this process.
The reason our Day Training programs are a great choice for many dog owners is because it creates an environment in which we get to spend lots of quality time with your pup. Rather than working with your dog for longer sessions, we can work with them in short, sharp bursts – when their focus and attention is at its highest. For example, if we’re going to spend two hours with your dog per day, it is more effective to break that time into three or four mini-sessions, allowing your dog to rest in between.
Success usually takes dedication, commitment and effort. Natural talent can only get you so far – in fact, this is another parallel with dogs.
Often, you’ll hear people say, “You know, I really want a smart breed.” In reality, when people say this, they simply want an obedient dog who will listen to them. Whilst different dog breeds have been bred for different purposes, no dog is born with the inherent ability to sit, stay or walk calmly on a leash. Sure, it is easier with some breeds than others – but with any breed, their ‘natural talent’ can be undone if an owner doesn’t harness that talent by working with them regularly.
Investing time – quality time – with your dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Making it a priority to work with your dog is going to result in a more peaceful home environment, a stronger bond between you and your dog, and ultimately, will help you to achieve your dog training goals.