Monday, October 7, 2013

Kick in the Pants

Oscar "Handsome Pants" with his not-so-used-anymore harness

Besides being a self-proclaimed dog behavior nerd, I am also a self-proclaimed "to-do" list writer, calendar keeper, email checker and (insert other OCD-like thing here).

I'm very passionate about "stuff" I like and, on average, spend 10+ hours each week prepping and teaching several group dog classes and carrying out private in-home training for my clients. This is on top of the 50+ hours I am away from home working at my day job and the varying amount of time I put in for a few freelance clients. And of course the daily training and weekly class I take with Oscar (I know, oh everyone...let's feel sorry for Laura. This entry is not a pity party on me, I promise!).

My amazing husband and my own dog, Oscar, often times take a back seat to the moving maelstrom that is Laura Holder, so it was with great surprise that I actually paused to read a short post a fellow dog trainer left on her Facebook page recently. The topic was around training equipment and how relying on a certain piece of equipment (in this case a front-clip harness) is often used to masque a training problem (that your dog doesn't know how to walk nicely on a leash). 

I quickly and fervently self-evaluated myself as a trainer and guardian who is a self-proclaimed dog behavior nerd. Around the same time -- in fact I think it was within 24 hours -- I had just began reading a fabulous book by Kay Laurence, Every Dog, Every Day. If you don't know her, please do yourself a favor and get to know here. In her book, Kay discusses the dance and connection that should happen as you walk with your dog while on leash. She challenges us as guardians to rethink the walk and to allow our dogs to get out there an sniff and in the event that they do pull on leash (GASP!)...simply stop and wait. Let them take the environment is important to them (and as you'll learn, if you read her book, it's important to you too). It was a somewhat different dog training book in that it didn't offer a quick if you do this, you will get that solutions. It was much more contemplative and definitely not for a person who is unwilling to sit down, sit back and really think about the relationship with their dog without ego. If this sounds like something you could do, then you and your dog will benefit from reading Kay's book. It is simply beautiful.  

Back to the story...

The combination of the FB post and finishing Kay's book challenged me to rethink how I go about walking with Oscar, who I've had on a front-clip harness for almost 3.5 years. The afternoon after finishing Kay's book, I clipped the leash on Oscar's collar, put my agenda and OCD tendencies on the kitchen counter and headed out to experience a "walk" with him.  It was beautiful and each day it gets even more so.

What have you done to kick yourself in the pants lately?

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