Training Murph Part XVI: My Own Lesson Learned

I talked about training with two dogs last time and told you I would update you on how that was going. The pure and simple fact is, it did not go well. It was too much for the dogs and too much for my skill set, but it did teach me a great deal about where Murph really is.

The reality is that Murph knows a great deal and responds well, but I overestimated his ability to focus with distractions. While we’ve worked on distractions with basic obedience, and he is coming along, trying to work on specific skills under those circumstances was anything but successful. My fault completely. Murph is not seasoned enough and Pickett is not used to sharing the spotlight. The result was a comedy of errors to say the least. Interestingly, I got a comment or two last week when I discussed this about the difficulty of training an older dog and a younger dog together. They were correct.

What this tells me is I need to slow down, go back and solidify, solidify, solidify. It is precisely what Mike Stewart of Wildrose told me to do, but I underestimated the time needed to do it. My enthusiasm for Murph’s progress overshadowed my common sense. The good news is I learned a lesson I needed to learn.

The best thing about dog training is that we learn as much, if not more, about ourselves as we do about the dog. I realized that I was expecting too much, too soon, and I needed to step back and look at my plan.

An overall plan is critical to training a dog and in my enthusiasm for Murph’s progress I had strayed from the plan. I have no intention of hunting Murph this next season, so why did I think it was necessary to get him and Pickett working together right now? 

Pickett will hunt alone this year. Murph will continue to train. I will certainly introduce him to it, but on a very limited basis. Murph has a significant skill set as of now from basic obedience to elementary retrieving and handling, but the fact he knows it, doesn’t mean it is automatic. I now realize that will take significantly more time and I am now resolved to give it to him.

So what have we learned? No matter how things are going, stick with the overall plan and review it often to stay on track. It is easy to get too enthusiastic and push too hard. It’s easy to get bored with the necessary repetition, but it is that repetition that will make the dog the kind of field companion you want. Also, making a mistake is not a problem unless you don’t learn from it.

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