This time last year there was no way my handsome boy would have stood like this anywhere near these steps, let alone on them. Working with him using Ttouch groundwork and bodywork has enabled him to grow in confidence and skill. He is much more agile in general and is now able to negotiate these with ease.
After months and months of running down to the beach using the dunes and via the bank, I had no expectations and was not in any way working towards this result but when it suddenly happened and long enough for me to take the picture I was over the moon. He went down and up them, for him a major achievement.
Dogs like us have idiosyncrasies, it's how we view them and work towards a better understanding of them that counts.
It's really easy for guardians to assume that as a trainer my dogs will be trained to perfection and really well behaved. Being practical and practising what we teach is not always easy when we are emotionally linked to those four legs running around our feet. Being happy with how my dogs behave may not be someone else's idea of achievement but for us it works. We enjoy our time together, they know how to behave and how to have fun. We are constantly striving to reach a better understanding of each other and they are the reason I am always refreshing my learning and keeping up with new ideas so together we can discover what works for us.
They are not breeds that people would call easy and some take more understanding and need different skills than others. They require my time and commitment to be the best they can be. It's easy to forget where we started, easy to forget how far we have come and definitely not easy to take time to ponder on all the highs and lows along the way.
It is much easier to concentrate on that one thing that is still not quite right, that issue that still won't go away, that undesirable behaviour. That's because I am human too, which is why it is easy for me to empathise with guardians as we work through our learning programme and encounter hiccups along the way. It's why I find it easy to remind them how far they have come, the improvements they have made as a team and the ease with which their dog now copes in social situations. Easy to point out that as he has grown in confidence his social skills have developed and his calm behaviour has resulted in better attention to you and the desire to hang out with you too.
It is easy to realise that those dogs that are not easy, are the ones that teach us the most. They test our knowledge and expertise. They give us the opportunity to hone our skills and develop. They make it easy for us to be creative and experiment with different ideas and techniques. They make it easy for us to feel immeasurable joy when they make good choices and are achieving positive results. They never make it easy for us to sit on our laurels, we need to be one step ahead with ideas, planning new goals and being consistent on a daily basis. It's these dogs that have made it easier for me to develop skills to help dogs like yours.
There are times when sharing our lives with our four legged friends are anything but easy, decision making about their health, their diet, their exercise regime etc., Training and learning how to work together is one of the easier decisions to make.
Do something nice and easy today. Call your dog, take time to enjoy their company and do something good together, play a game, share a moment of fun or a cuddle, take it easy and relax.