Thursday, June 10, 2010

Confessions of an obedience addict

This picture has nothing to do with today’s post. I just thought it was knock-out gorgeous and had to share. The peonies are toast by now but they were stunning while they lasted. The yarrow is going strong and will be until frost.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.

It has been suggested that I am not normal.

I’m one of those people who trains obedience nearly every day.


But I love it. Obedience training is like air and food to me. And you know how seriously I take food!

The “How often should you train?” question comes up a lot with newbies to the sport. They are curious about how long it will take their dog to learn a given skill or be ready for the ring. Of course that depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, how often you train. Everything else being equal, the more you train, the faster you progress. At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

Everyone has different demands on their time with work, family, etc. but making it a point to train on a regular basis will go a long way toward finding success with your dog, no matter what your goals are. Right now I’m really driven to have Phoenix ready for Utility late this summer or early fall. Utility is my favorite class to train and show in, so that makes the training even more enjoyable. Looking forward to moving on to the next step of each exercise gives me the motivation to work hard on laying a good foundation.

I train obedience so much because — in order of importance — A) I love spending time building a working relationship with my dog; B) I love going into the ring with a dog who is prepared and confident and C) I want high scores. None of that is going to happen if I don’t train.

I really enjoy group training sessions with friends but it’s hard to find a time when we can all get together, so mostly I train by myself. It’s a real treat to have a group session. During nice weather, I make it a point to go somewhere other than the back yard at least once a week. Session lengths usually range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, rarely longer. I want to leave my dog wanting more. In other words, leave the party before it's over.

I thought about trying to organize a group training session for this weekend but the weather forecast looks hideous, with high rain chances, temps near 90 and humidity that would melt the hubcaps off a Buick.

We’ll still train, just not for very long. Sessions will be extremely condensed to focus on 2-3 skills and we’ll be training first thing in the morning or later in the evening, probably at a nice shady local park because I’m actually HOME this weekend and have time to haul jumps and ring gates to a park and set everything up. It may take me longer to drive to the park and set my stuff up than it actually does to train, but you’ll have that.

We’ll spend the rest of the weekend eating ice cream and splashing in the baby pool.


  1. Awesome picture!

    I was thinking about the time to train thing the other day. I started feeling like a pretty miserable failure with not setting aside training time for heeling, stand for exam, bla bla bla.

    But then I realized, whenever I'm cooking, or doing laundry, or random things throughout the house, I always am having the dogs do something. Whether it's stays, or recalls, or games like peekaboo. It might not be formal stuff, but at least we're practicing something.

  2. That's a great point! Any time we interact with our dogs, we are training them (and them, us), whether we realize it or not. And informal training is the best.

  3. Love the picture!!! Good job you for hauling your stuff around!! It's NOT easy, but it sure will pay off!!!