Getting motivated to train can sometimes feel like a big project- setting up the area, finding the right treats, digging through the laundry basket to get the clicker out of yesterday’s jeans…. By the time do all of that, you could have easily trained the dog. My secret for this is to have hidden stashes of training supplies everywhere- on every floor of the house, in each car, in the motorhome, even in my backpack. That way, whenever the urge strikes I have the basics of what I will need.
I’m fortunate enough to have a designated agility yard and basement training space, so that’s where the big stuff like jumps, weave poles, and fitness equipment lives (well, ok I’ll admit to a Fitpaws donut in the living room.
But small items like treats, clickers, tug toys, targets, dumbbells, and nose work odor can be stashed and used just about anywhere that the dogs can’t reach to help themselves. That last part is tricky since Juno seems to have opposable thumbs that she uses to open up drawers containing cookies, but with some creativity you can probably find suitable places for training stashes too. Training multiple dogs with a full schedule has shown me just how much dogs can learn in 30 second sessions snuck into an otherwise full day, if you just have the right tools at hand.
When I graduated high school my yearbook quote was “It must be so lonely to think that you have only somebody’s else’s life to live if they let you” from the Billy Joel song Blonde Over Blue. My eighteen year old self always knew I would work with dogs, but she also always pictured working for herself, as a kennel owner, professional handler, something like that. Looking back, every single person that I seriously and admired and considered a mentor was in that situation. When I graduated college and the reality of living in the city (not so conductive to a dog business) and not having money to invest in facilities hit hard, so I did what seemed like the next best thing and started a career in the service dog industry. Along the way I have met (and hopefully helped, at least most of the time) some really great people and mostly enjoyed what I did, but a part of me always knew I was living someone else’s dream.
This week everything changed, not exactly by choice but probably for the best. It’s time to pursue my own dream, which I now realize is a private training business. I’ll start by doing private in home training, with the hope that a facility will be part of the longer term plan. Honestly, after 17 years in the same job it’s nice to even have a long term plan. Yes, there are things (and people and dogs) I will miss, but not the drama, politics, and pressure that comes when you literally promise miracles to people. It will be liberating not to feel like I have to suppress a big part of myself to be accepted into a corporate culture where I really don’t fit or to face judgment for being a woman who is not maternal and nurturing. Dog training is what I know best and this is a chance to go back to doing that, on my schedule and in a way that works for my life.
In honor of my brilliant Chili-dog, the new business will be called The Clever Hound. A website and Facebook page are coming soon!
Here’s this year’s video. Some cool hunt footage and lots of agility. Chili, Salsa, Juno, Gromit, and CC are all featured. And in case you’re wondering, no rabbits were harmed in the filming of this video! The bunnies know the hiding places at the Beagle clubs way better than the hounds do.