Today, I want to talk about how good you need to be at training in order to train your dog. A lot of people call me to ask whether they can actually train their dog. I always tell them that over the years, I’ve found that consistency will trump talent every time.
Here’s what that means. Sometimes, I have a client who is talented from the moment they take the leash. They read the dog perfectly and handle the leash well—that’s a natural ability. But some of those people go home, watch Netflix on the couch, and never work their dog. A few weeks later, when they come back to us, their dog hasn’t made progress. So while those owners are naturally talented at the tasks we give them, they don’t have the work ethic to follow through. These people will get results if they implement even a little of what we show them, but they often don’t get the amazing results they could achieve if they put in more effort.
On the flip side, we’ve had a lot of clients over the years (no offense if you fall into this category!) who just aren’t talented. Their timing is off, they have two left feet, or they don’t handle the leash well. Of course, this is expected: not everyone is naturally talented. We want these people—along with ourselves and with the people who have a natural skill—to get better. Everyone who is endeavoring to train their dog should be looking to improve their ability, whether you’re an owner who wants to train one dog or a professional who wants to train thousands.
One thing I’ve noticed is this: if the person who isn’t naturally talented consistently works their butt off, they will always outperform the highly talented but inconsistent owner. Of course, the ideal situation is an owner who is both naturally skilled consistent, and hard-working. But if you’re unsure of your abilities, don’t get discouraged!
You can succeed if you have good methods, whether you’re working through a professional trainer or a DVD course. Once you find a method that works, you can get great results from your dog. Now, there are some cases where the difficulty is very great and you can’t get the results you want. In those cases, we offer a boot camp where the dog stays with us for training. Remember that just because you’re able to affect change doesn’t mean that you can reach the highest levels without becoming very, very good at training dogs.
But you certainly shouldn’t get discouraged. Many of my clients come to me after months or years of trying, and sometimes after sessions with other trainers. They’ve worked hard but haven’t gotten results, so they think they don’t have it in them. In reality, they just didn’t have methods that worked! If you have those solid methods, and are consistent and dedicated to them, then you can do a lot of great things for your dog.