Who are you when it comes to dog training?

When asked "Who Are You?" regarding our involvement in dog training, we often have a split personality.

Am I a training geek? Amazed by all the nuances in training? In awe of my dog's ability to learn complex skills and tasks? Learning all that I can about the "science of training"? Exploring around the edges, such as with concept training?

Am I a dog sport trainer? Working with my own dogs as well as my students' dogs in helping them reach their goals of a true partnership in training and their competition goals? Exploring the most up-to-date training methods for my sport? Always on the search to make myself more clear and more valuable to my dog? Creating a partnership that includes concepts such as consent?

Am I a pet dog trainer? Working with inexperienced handlers who have yet to learn how to communicate with their dogs effectively to meet their seemingly simple goals of a well-mannered pet? I say seemingly, because in reality the work of a laymen is often ten-fold the work of an experienced trainer. Much of what they must learn, we now do by rote.

In truth I am all three. That doesn't mean, though, that all three of my "personalities" view training or apply the same techniques in the same way.

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Canine Musical Freestyle – So Much More Than “Dancing with your Dog”

In 1998, I was given a VHS video tape (remember those?) called "Dancing with your Dog". I chuckled, thinking it was a gag gift and promptly put it on the shelf along with my "real" training books.

Later that year I saw a live freestyle demo at the APDT conference in Pennsylvania. I watched as dog and handler teams moved in unison to music and wowed the audience with cool tricks and behaviors. I said to my friend standing next to me: "I want to do that with my dog!"

"That" was unlike anything I had seen before. It was an inspiring performance of true teamwork, meticulously timed to the music, and executed with sheer joy.

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