After we started Labrador Friends I got more and more involved with dogs. I observed countless dogs come by. The more I watched all the different personalities, the more I wanted to learn. I observed, studied (I guess studying is in my blood), I asked a lot of questions to all the trainers that were working with us. I slowly learned to guess the temperament of a dog from a few pictures and, after a few mistakes, to follow my guts when it was telling me that a dog was not the right match for a family.
A few months after Nala died, I fell in love with my foster, a little red lab puppy. Kiara became Oliver’s new best friend and my new teacher. She was completely different than Oliver and Nala: High energy, crazy, playful, super smart. Once again I had to learn more. But this time I knew better. I enrolled immediately in puppy class. Yes, with all that I knew at that point, I still found class a great way to keep me and my puppy accountable. Then came tricks class , free shaping, and we ended up at agility. Had I known then what I know now, Oliver’s adolescence would have been a lot easier…and we could have, maybe, passed the canine good citizen test!
Oliver passed away recently and Kiara and I are still learning. Fosters come and fosters go, and we learn something new every time. The way I see it, there is always something new to learn so I have not stopped asking questions, reading books, and going to training class. I cannot count how much money I have invested into dog training over 15 years and I don’t regret one single penny of it. Dogs are a big part of my life and working with dog trainers has made my relationship with them so much more fun and has added a few fun friends to my life.
Here are some resources to keep you thinking. I love https://www.jabulavip.com/ for online support and daily tips to keep me motivated. I find the daily posts on The Naughty Dogge Facebook page incredibly insightful. “Culture Clash” by Jean Donaldson is one of the first books I read, and I am currently reading “Animal in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior” by Temple Gradin and Catherine Johson. All this said, nothing replaces a relationship with a good dog trainer: what I have learned about dogs mostly comes from talking with amazing people, Kate and Gill at Jabula Dog Academy, Trish at Atlanta Dog Trainer, and Kim at Sirius Dog Agility, among many… Find a trainer that fits your personality, start learning, and have fun with your dog!
Do you have a dog training book or a website you love? Share it with us so we can all continue to learn to understand our dogs.