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Vimy's Birthday Week - Day 3: Training Lessons Learned

It's easy to get lulled into the idea that once you've trained a few dogs that you more or less know what you're doing with the new one. Well, let me tell you just how wrong that is! Every dog is unique in their challenges, and each breed has their own characteristics. However, it wasn't as much my learning to train a new puppy and a new breed as it has been a real lesson in personal growth for me! Who knew...

While I'm still a student of the canine daily, I can share these 3 lessons learned with you that have come from raising and training my bird dog.

Lesson 1: Patience

Ah, patience – that elusive virtue that seems to vanish the moment your dog decides to ignore you or throws your training sessions out the window with a curve ball. Training a dog requires buckets of patience, a virtue that I do not possess, but have learned to cultivate while training Vimy.

Vimy, like many dogs, has his own challenges – usually involving a strong desire to hunt, chase and catch game birds, or becoming so hyper-aroused during a session that it would appear his brain fell out at the door. Through these frustrations, I discovered that every small victory was a cause for celebration. Every incremental improvement became a testament to the power of patience and not rushing the process, no matter how quickly I wanted to get to the end goal.

Lesson 2: Consistency

Consistency – the backbone of any successful training program. Sometimes, we take on too much. For me, starting a business, training for multiple dog sports and trying to maintain a shred of sanity was and is, my life. But amidst the chaos, I was reminded that consistency was the non-negotiable when it came to training Vimy (and every other dog that came before him). Consistency provides the framework upon which Vimy can thrive and as a result, I see progress where I didn't think it was possible. One way I cultivate consistency in my training is by planning and documenting my training sessions. This process helps keep me on track and remind me not only where we're going, but where we've come from. This can be such a powerful tool to stay on track with your training and keep your motivation high. Grab a FREE copy of the training journal I use!

A black and white dog with his nose to the ground doing the sport of scent detection
Vimy indicating on a hide in scent detection

Lesson 3: Imperfections

As much as we'd like to believe otherwise, no dog (or human, for that matter) is perfect. Vimy certainly has his quirks – from his penchant for barking to announce his excitement about all the things, to his dramatic sourcing in scent detection, it sometimes feels like I want to "fix" these things. But rather than viewing these quirks as flaws, I've learned to embrace them as part of what makes Vimy uniquely him and, allow the process of navigating all his quirks to contribute to my growth as a trainer.

Training Vimy has taught me that perfection is overrated – it's the imperfections that make life interesting and our relationships with our dogs all the more special. Remember, imperfection is just another word for character.

I hope these lessons learned serve as a reminder that training isn't just about teaching commands or arriving at the end goal – it's about building a lifelong relationship with our dogs. So, next time you find yourself at the end of your leash (pun intended), just remember to embrace the journey – imperfections and all.

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