I really want to know how others have discovered the relationship based system and how it makes them feel about the process of training. I think in taking these courses that I have come to realize that I have a greater responsibility to my dog than food, shelter and training. I definitely feel a strong need to communicate accurately and be able to read my dog when he gets it and when he doesn't. I feel empowered, like when I discovered that I could do math, because I now have a grasp of the language and a system based in engagement which is fun and relaxing for me and my dog that supports the relationship. I tend to not be as critical about an outcome being right or wrong but understanding that it is an ongoing process that creates trust and respect. A foundation laid in patience and understanding which creates a tremendous bond is what I think the relationship based system fosters. It has also been a key factor in helping to recognize fear and anxiety. The games are a way to address those issues and to build confidence in the owner and well as the dog more than any other training method I have ever used.
Another important behavioral element that affects the relationship that I look at differently now is prey drive. Owning hunters and herders I see it in all of its glory every day and in the suburbs it can be a real challenge. I used to view it as a behavioral issue that needed resolving. I have grown to appreciate this instinctual behavior more working in a relationship based system that emphasizes that this is what a dog does naturally and to understand it and work with it brings about a stronger relationship and mutual respect for one another. As Jamie kindly reminds me, "It's about the hunt!" I am seeing lots of positive changes in Tucker in focus, engagement and joy but more in myself and what I can bring to the relationship to make it stronger and more fulfilling.
When you asked the class to sum up where they are with their relationships I had to give that some thought. I have taken all of your classes and been under your guidance for nearly a year. Studying Suzanne's work and attending her seminar during this time created a lot of information I have yet to absorb but you had me really thinking! I have been struggling with how to reach a sense of satisfaction with knowledge and training that was making a true difference. You have given that to me and I will forever be a follower as well as a personal fan:) I have run the gamut of traditional and positive reinforcement for three years but I still had seemingly incurable behaviors and surmounting fears and anxiety with my dogs. Finding your classes and working the games has made a tremendous difference in Tucker and in helping me reach that sense of satisfaction in growing confidence and knowledge that makes you never want to stop learning:) That is a tremendous gift and truly a testament to your excellence in teaching and creating an exceptionally successful model for developing the human/canine relationship! I will be forever grateful and a lifer with your school of thought. Anytime I can contribute to help spread the attributes of your teachings just say the word. I believe there's a game for that called Share It!
I for one have gotten rid of my frustration with my lack of training ability which was also directed at Benen as an offshoot. Life is much more fun now for both of us. I don't think I've ever laughed or giggled so much during training sessions than I do now. We are much closer for it and I am seeing him with a whole new set of eyes and heart.
Gone is the pressure of succeeding or being perfect, because now I realize it is all about the foundation of trust, love and understanding. In that we have had major improvements, and it is much more about the changes in me than in Benen. I believe he was ready and waiting for me to get to this point to begin our life together.
It seems that many trainers and owners expect their dogs to learn at a faster rate than our children and that our relationships should be on par with that. This class has taught me that building a relationship is a lifelong journey, accepting and growing together through it all. Embracing our dogs genetic traits is to understand them and accept them for who they are. By golly, they accept us and love us for who we are with all our little quirks and foibles.
As much as I wish this had been my first class/lesson with Benen, I am thankful it came sooner than later in our life together. :)) I am in Jamie's Relationship class. For me, it's where I should have started two years ago when I got Benen. But better late than never. Fantastic course and I have become a much more relaxed, fun, observant and informed trainer and person. Pressure and frustration are a thing of the past. We are living in the moment. And it's flowing over into all areas of my life. I believe I was my biggest obstacle with Benen. We are both better for it. And tuning into a whole new way of training for me is crazy cool. You are right about being sure you can keep up with a class before taking on another. Jamie was a big help for me with that. Relationship, last two weeks, is doable alongside this. Jamie gets a real good feel for us too and what we may be capable of.
This is my second class with Jamie - I took Clarity and Calm last session and it was eye opening. I knew I was having a problem - I just wasn't sure what it was. I think D would call it engagement, but I noticed that Connor was perfectly engaged and then he wasn't. He would leave the rally ring to go investigate something, but then he'd come back. I finally realized that he needed more praise and rewards and much more encouragement than he was getting. He also was going to investigate things that he wasn't sure about. He didn't have faith in me to believe things were OK. Our relationship was not good enough to get through an entire course and distractions. HMMMM! I think Penny made the point that she was so proud of her well-trained dog that she didn't realize the relationship was missing. I was the same way. I have taught Connor all the novice and open obedience behaviors and we have foundations on all of the utility exercises. He knows his stuff - but something was missing. In a work TRUST! I've been watching the changes in our relationship. I am much more relaxed and he is responding with engagement and trust in what I am asking him to do. He also is offering engagement and behaviors because he knows it is safe to do.
Something happened last night that really brought this home to my family. My daughter came in from work about 11pm and was greeted by her beagle and Connor. Bally started making her noises and Connor started barking. Bally got lots of love and praise, Connor got yelled at and pushed away. At bit later, my husband and daughter started one of their mock sparring matches, all in fun, and Connor tried to intervene. Finally , my husband had him lay down and started giving him cheerios. They went back to it and Connor got up to break it up - and they did several iterations of this. I got up to intervene - he was not going to stay in a down while having this emotional reaction and believeing things were out of control. Just before I got to the kitchen, he got up and shoulder pushed my daughter away and stood right in front of my husband. He went into protection mode. My daughter just couldn't understand why he thought she was a threat to my husband. I pointed out to her that Connor doesn't trust her. All she does is yell at him. OK, there is the occasional pat on the head, which he doesn't really like, but then she's back to being annoyed at him. Usually because he gets pushy with her beagle when he wants her to play with him. He also barks at her when she starts baying and whining. This pointed out to all of us how much a solid trusting relationship - or lack - can effect even the most basic interactions with the family.
I would love to learn how to see all the things Jamie sees in the dogs, and why these games work on those issues. Why are simple looking games so powerful with dogs?
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Seize The Leash