Seminars, Trials, Group Classes, Run Thrus, Online Courses, Private Lessons… How Much is Too Much?

1070_711773423213_9845_nSometimes once we get passionate and borderline obsessive about a certain dog sport, we can easily overdo it. Especially in a world where more technological resources are available to us as dog owners, we could easily be hearing the opinion of a half a dozen or more instructors within a week’s time. Does it benefit us from a training perspective to actually process so much information? Does it become overwhelming? Do we recognize early signs of burn out and take a step back or keep plugging along because now it is simply a habit to do so?

We are blessed in this country to have so many truly talented dog trainers easily accessible to us and with the recent surge of online classes, many of us are lucky enough to regularly be instructed by many international greats as well. But does all of this access allow us to get carried away too easily? How is it affecting our dog(s)? How is it affecting our relationship with our dog(s)? How is it affecting us? How is it affecting our wallets?

I don’t intend to be putting a negative spin on accessing this wide array of information. Many people are able to take away bits and pieces from each instructor and apply those lessons to their training in a very healthy way. However, I feel it is nearly impossible to try to implement more than one training methodology to your overall belief system. And if you’re trying six different methods for your running dog walk, how do you know which one really is working best if at all if you do not give any of the six an adequate amount of trial time within your training sessions?

Be cautious as we enter 2013 about finding balance within your training. For some, it might be advantageous to make goals within each of your current dog sports and commit to not delving into something completely new until you have accomplished those goals. Maybe make a list of the top 5 instructors who you personally would want to work with and choose to only stick to those names. It might be advisable to set a monthly training budget not necessarily for financial reasons but in order to limit your accessibility to too much training. Yes, knowledge is power, but also remember that great beauty lies within great clarity.

And if you don’t change any of your training habits this year, if nothing else, make sure you are taking your dogs to the beach or out on the trails at least once per week. No matter what happens in competition, I feel we will always be most fulfilled in our relationship with our dogs while they are our companions.

Happy training to all for this upcoming year, and I wish each of you many successful and special moments on and off the field!