Trainer or psychologist?
By now, some readers are thinking that dog training is looking awfully complicated. Heck, they just want to get a couple of titles. Have some fun on the weekends; make new friends. And here's a blogger suggesting that each dog she's trained is an act of perpetual psychology; make a few wrong moves and damage the team.
The good news is that most dogs are highly forgiving - you'll be able to make lots of mistakes and they'll never let on. The percentage of relatively straightforward dogs rises if your goal is to trial only a few times a year; mostly to get the titles. And if you select the "right" dog, and use a method of training that has proven effective with that type of dog, you'll have even more success. It helps if you're not sweating the picture too much.
If you know that you're temperamentally unable to stand frustration and you want great success, then I'm going to suggest you select your breed, individual puppy and training method very carefully to get the stars aligned in your favor. Really. There's no point in knocking your head against the wall if your primary interest is to succeed via the scoresheet.
The trade off, of course, is that the easy ones dont' advance our skills very much. But sometimes what we need to learn is simply basic mechanics, in which case the best choice is to select for a highly forgiving, willing and stable partner, at least to start.
"Forgiveness", "willingness" and "stability" will take you far in the sport of obedience. I'd say it's 90% of the battle, once you master those pesky technical skills. Because if your dog has forgiven you whatever you did to get the skills taught, isn't having a personal meltdown at the dog show, and wants to make you happy even when you're not dangling a cookie, then the future is bright indeed.
But with dogs lacking one or more of those qualities, teaching the exercises ends up being the easy part. Getting those skills into the ring - well, that's another kettle of fish. And if you want a dog that shows a relaxed, happy picture....now you're in the realm of serious challenge.
If you have already selected your non-traditional obedience breed and don't plan to switch, or you currently own a dog that you're training for competition, or you've discovered that your traditional obedience dog isn't acting traditionally, then being something of a doggy psychologist is probably a good idea, especially if you're running into trouble. For me, that's the part of training that is interesting - figuring out how to keep the entire team emotionally comfortable, happy and willing.
The best thing about reading a blog is that you don't have to. You could go outside and train your dog instead. But if you're still here, it's possible, or even likely, that you're sort of interested in your dog as a partner; you'd like to understand what is happening inside that furry head and make things as good as possible for the team, not just the human. In which case, I'd say we're off to a good start, because my goal in teaching is to help others think like doggy psychologists too.
My new puppy is only 12 days away now. I cant' wait to meet her!