So where am I going with this, and what's with the title of this blog post, anyway?
Well, I was chatting with a woman I met at a recent seminar (she has a pem, so she and I naturally got to know each other). I asked her how the trial was going for her and she said that she wasn't competing - her dog wasn't ready yet. She was having some struggles and she commented to me that this was the first dog she's trained in agility - and the first one is always the hardest - it gets easier after that.
Hmmm.... That doesn't exactly hold true for me. Maggie was much easier to train than Ziggy is. Much easier. Sometimes with Ziggy I wonder how I even taught him to sit.
My reply to her was that this principle was not holding true for me. Ziggy was #3 and my hardest dog yet. I realize now that this was probably not the most encouraging thing to say to a dog training newbie, but then there's a reason I'm not a life coach.
Then I started to think about the comment. Was it true? Is the first dog the hardest? Should the going be easier with Ziggy?
After much (probably too much) reflection - here's where I've landed:
1 - I was spoiled with my first dog. She was (and still is) easy to train.
2 - If I didn't have such an easy dog first, I may not have become a dog training aficionado.
3 - There ARE things - in fact quite a few things - that are easier after the first dog. Such as:
- I now know the "lingo" and can understand what performance (i.e.: agility, rally & obedience) folks are saying
- I know how to walk a course - in rally and agility both
- I know the agility, obedience & rally regulations - most of them, anyway :)
- I know how to fill out an entry form to enter a trial
- I know all the stuff I have to take with me to trials in order for my dogs and I to be relaxed and comfortable
- I know the difference between bronze, silver, gold & platinum treats and I'm getting better at deploying each strategically
- I'm more coordinated and clear with my commands (and always trying to get better!)
- I know what the finished product should look like (be it a rear cross on an agility course or a lovely, quick, straight front)
- I have experienced that link with your dog that happens when both of you are "in the zone" and working together really well
- I know good when I've got it