Don't loose it!

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Victoria! 

Hello! My name is Victoria and THAT (above) is about all I remember from 2 semesters of French in high school! Back in those days I could write essays, have small conversations, and even read books in French with ease!

Ask me to say something in French now and I'll introduce myself and maybe name some fruits--but that is about the extent of the conversation we will have! In high school I could have gone to Paris and gotten from point A to point B with ease--including asking questions, ordering food, and chatting up the locals. Ask me to go now, and I'll be saying "Bonjour! English?" while moving my hand like a little duck mouth.

Why am I posting this on my dog training page? Because the same principle applies to dog training. I spoke French everyday for 2 semesters and was a real Mademoiselle! However I graduated and never again challenged myself to keep up with the daily exercises we did in school. Quickly I lost all of the skills I had worked so hard for to conjugate verbs, count to 20, or even ask someone's name! Now, instead of holding my own in a real world French environment, I would struggle to do one thing correctly. How do you say FAIL in French? Don't ask me! 

So (if you can see where I am going with this)! Your dog's training is NOT over after it comes home from a board and train or you finish the last session of your private lessons. Your "training" is only beginning! Your dog needs you to practice your leadership and his training skills everyday, so that he can continue to be successful and improve in the real world. I could be giving lectures in French if I'd have kept up with it!

If you only said "sit" to your dog twice a week, do you think he would ever learn the command? So why only practice place command once a week, when guests come over on Saturday night? That type of "it's time to train" pattern means your dog is going to struggle (and you're likely to get frustrated) all because you guys haven't been having "real training conversation" daily. It's one thing to tell your dog "place" once a day when you're making his food and then release him to eat; It's another thing to have your dog in a place command while you do chores and then recall him across the room to a down/stay while you carry groceries in and out of the front door. 

Try taking your dog on a walk once a week, and see if your leash manners improve  Instead take your dog on a daily walk and challenge him to hold a down/stay while other walkers and their dogs go by, or to heel without distraction in a busy grocery store parking lot.

Keep challenging your dog and keep practicing your stuff. Don't sweep obedience under the rug for only the days when you need major control of your dog--because they will struggle and so will you. Have your dog do some structured obedience work and calm on command behavior everyday. EVERYDAY. You've invested in it this far, don't let it go! Keep the language fresh, so your dog can carry his own in real time!

Please don't take your dog to Paris only knowing how to say "croissant!"