Last night’s class marked exactly a month since my dog and I joined the world of dog sports. Let me just say, it’s been the best decision ever! I can’t believe I waited so long to finally take the leap.
In this past month, Bella has learned so many things, but I feel like I have learned so much more. Like I’ve already stated in another post, I’ve been learning how to become a better handler. To me, it’s just as important (if not more) to learn how to be a good leader and trainer for your dog than it is for your dog to learn the behaviors. You can have an insanely smart, ready-to-train dog, but if you don’t know how to be a good trainer, your dog will get nowhere. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. You must not only be willing to be criticized and taught, but also willing to change your habits and ways, so that you can help your dog succeed.
Although we’ve only had 4 classes, so much has happened! A month ago, Bella was nervous to be in a new facility and around our trainer. She didn’t mind them, but it was obvious that she wasn’t sure about them. Despite the nervousness, I was very pleased with how she settled in and was willing to work. Each class after that, she would still be a little shy but would warm up pretty quickly. About last night, though… I don’t know if she got into some RedBull or what. She was insane in there. I have never seen her so happy and willing to socialize with a person who could still be considered a stranger. She was hopping around and displaying very playful behavior towards our trainer. It was amazing to see!
Since starting, Bella has become so motivated and willing to work during our sessions at home and in class. She used to really struggle with being interested and paying attention. Now, she’s gotten good at ignoring distractions and giving me the behaviors I ask for. She’ll wag her tail and offer me extra behaviors just because she’s having a good time and really wants that reward. For so long, all I’ve wanted is for her to truly enjoy training, and I’m finally seeing that.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, we’ve also found time to learn some new behaviors. We’ve been working on shaping fronts, heeling, pivots, downs, stays, finishes, and more. In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to start working on learning signs, so that we can put it all together like how it would be in a trial.
This new adventure we’re on has been so much fun! I am so proud of Bella, and I’m proud of myself (if I can say that without sounding vain). Each class I’m learning to be more confident in my abilities. Last night, my trainer said that we were doing really good overall, but I’m the kind of person that doesn’t really accept compliments that well. I always think in my head, “I’m sure they’re just saying that because they have to”. Nonetheless, it was reassuring to hear that because I get self-conscious that I’m not measuring up to my trainer’s expectations, even though they’ve never made me feel that way. But, to know that we’re right on track makes me happy and excited to continue! I’m so thankful for what we’ve accomplished so far.