I am still floating around on the euphoria of finishing Phoenix’s CDX. It’s an awesome feeling to know we did it, even though earning a certificate with our names on it from the AKC doesn’t mean all our problems are solved.
We’ve got a lot to work on as we prep for Utility (goal - March 2011), both in technical skills and in relationship. I know the things I’ve learned during the last seven months will improve me as a trainer and help me get enthusiastic, confident work from Phoenix.
Things I learned during the quest for Phoenix’s CDX (in no particular order).
• Don’t take any part of any exercise for granted. Ever.
• Respect your dog as a totally unique individual, never as an extension of your ego.
• All this training and titling stuff is YOUR idea, not your dog’s.
• Evaluate your dog’s skills often and be realistic: recognize the faults, problem areas, etc. and deal with them before they get worse.
• Stay focused on what your dog really needs in training to be successful in the ring.
• Keep your focus on the process (training) not the outcome (title).
• Never be afraid to ask your dog for more effort. This means you have to give more effort, too.
• It’s okay to back up and strengthen a foundation skill.
• Listen to advice, consider it carefully, do what you think is best.
• Relive successes, don’t replay failures.
• If you believe you can, you will.
• Laugh often.
• I have a beautiful, brilliant, athletic dog.
• When it comes to training, quality is better than quantity.
• I have a lot of very good friends and I am grateful for their endless insight, advice and help.
• My dog occasionally thinks I am a complete idiot but he still loves me.
• As much as possible, make training look like showing.
• Get the most out of matches (this is a post in itself!)
• Phoenix is a very honest dog who tries very hard.
• I need to be sillier when I train; when I am very serious, Phoenix is very serious. He needs more feedback to know he is RIGHT and I am HAPPY and life is good!