the misunderstanding of time

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When I am asked what is the biggest problem I see in dog training today, it is the same problem I saw  fourteen years ago, and thirty years ago, it is the misunderstanding of time.
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It takes time to learn how to be a teacher to another species.
It takes time to learn how to learn from another species.
It takes time to build understanding.
It takes time to learn how to observe and how to apply what you observe.
It takes time to build a relationship with trust.
It takes time to get to know one another.
It takes time to teach.
It takes an enormous amount of time to build skill on both ends of the leash.
It takes time to learn.
It take time to learn about humility.
It takes time to learn how to work together.
It takes time to learn about the things in training you don’t even know that you don’t know yet.
It takes time to learn about your own short comings.
It takes time to forgive your own short comings and learn how to move on with your dog.
It takes a life time to practice compassion.
It takes time, all of it.
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You cannot rush a relationship.
You cannot rush the teaching or learning process, on either end of the leash.
You cannot rush maturity or the lack there of.
You cannot rush your skills, or your dog’s understanding of your skills.
My advice to new dog owners, seasoned dog owners, and want to be dog owners – learn how to settle in, learn that nothing will happen overnight. Learn that if you try to take short cuts and try to make it all happen to fit your schedule, or your desires, or your needs, it will come back to bite you in the ass, figuratively or literally.
 Nancy

59 thoughts on “the misunderstanding of time

  1. This is just beautiful. I have recently started down the path towards learning to become a dog trainer. This couldn’t have come at more perfect time. I’m going to print it out and put it in my notebook. I love, *love*, LOVE this one: “It takes time to learn about the things in training you don’t even know that you don’t know yet.” 🙂

  2. This is just wonderful. I have recently started down the path towards becoming a dog trainer. I am going to print it out and put it in my notebook. I love, *love*, LOVE this: “It takes time to learn about the things in training you don’t even know that you don’t know yet.” That’s me…

  3. Your blog instantly became a favorite when I stumbled upon it several months ago. These two statements from above really hit home with me.

    It takes time to forgive your own short comings and learn how to move on with your dog.
    It takes a life time to practice compassion.

    I made a lot of mistakes the first year of my sweet Jorgas life, but I’m learning to forgive myself and keep going.

    Compassion – I feel with today’s instant media we are becoming numb and losing our compassion. I totally agree it takes your entire life in order to get it right.

    1. Christy, I focused on that same passage about shortcomings and moving on. We adopted a very anxious and reactive dog and at first, I became overwhelmed with what that meant and the training schedule I needed to keep to address it. Once I accepted mistakes and chose to move forward, things started going so much better.
      Thanks for the perspective, Nancy. This means a great deal right now with our current situation. Time has taught us a lot…and will continue to do so, I trust.

  4. Yes! I am always fighting the urge to rush my training…to pack more into a training session…to train more efficiently. But when I just relax and go at the natural learning pace, the dog and I always have so much more fun and I think we end up learning things faster 🙂 This is a simple topic that is difficult to execute and even harder to pass along to clients who are training their dogs.

  5. Before I was born, my family raised & competed with dogs. Therefore, I’ve had dogs for 68 yrs. (wow! that long?) and I am still learning from them! :-))

  6. I agree – Communicating with this canine specie that does not speak our language is challenging at best, but building the relationship is vital! I would LOVE to include this part of your blog in our obedience club newsletter. With explicit credit to you, your blog and website, may I?

  7. I can see that sometimes it’s two steps forward and then one step back but that is okay as long as we’re going in the right direction with love and compassion and patience. And a sense of humor,

  8. Thanks for the valuable reminder. I’ve had my doxie for 5 yrs & my yorkie for 7 months. I have an intense bond with my doxie. She understands so well & is very motivated to obey.

    In all honesty, I don’t really like my yorkie, she seems like a dimwit & obeying is optional. She also pees on the carpet when she gets mad.

    Your post reminds me to be patient & give my relationship with my yorkie time. The first 3 months I had my doxie, it was total hell. I would come home to another mess & just sit on the floor & cry. After 6 months, things were much better, but our relationship didn’t fully mature until 9 months. Perhaps there is hope of having an awesome bond with my Yorkie & I just need to be patient.

    Both my dogs are rescues. My doxie came from the streets & I got her when she was about 2 yrs old. My yorkie came from a home where the huband disliked her for 5 yrs before he made his wife give her away. I’m her 3rd home that I know of & she is 10 y/o.

  9. Just picked up my 2 yr old choc lab from an excellent trainer who has had her since she was 6 mo old. During that time she came home for holidays! We recently put her in her 1st Master Hunt Test. She can do the work and is a great marker but I’m pulling her because she needs more TIME to mature. We will keep training but I’m in no rush. One day I’ll see that magic switch go off where she “gets it” and then we’ll pursue a Master title. Until then, I’ll love her and we’ll have fun.

  10. So true. And this doesn’t just apply to dogs! So often in today’s education system, we see attempts to speed up the education process with children – it just doesn’t work, as children too need time to grow, learn and mature.

  11. I love this….I am beginning my journey to becoming a professional dog trainer…I am hungry to devour all knowledge because I want to do it right. This is perfect timing for me and a reminder that is is not about the destination, but the journey. I would like to print this and hang it on my wall….giving you full credit. May I have your permission to do this?

  12. Wow. I’m struggling with my 29 month old English Sheherd puppy with barking, peeing insodewithpitnwarnung, and general nastiness. This post brought me to tears. It’s good advice for when times with puppies are rough.
    Zöe Hare
    Ithaca, New York.

  13. I love this post for so many reasons. A good reminder to myself as both a person who shares her life with dogs, and also as a trainer. It’s funny, I keep re-learning this lesson a thousand ways. And I’ve had some very good teachers. Sometimes, it is easier to see the lessons with hindsight, but I should strive to see them in real time. I wrote this a few years ago about my dog Mojo Jojo who has since passed, and he was one of those amazing teachers.

    “Often, you hear owners make statements about the comparative length of time of the pet’s life to other relationships in their lives. “That dog has been with me longer than most relationships/friendships/boyfriend/girlfriend/husbands/wives, etc.” I know it is said half jokingly, but for many, it is true. Our pets are with us through it all – the moves, the relationships, the addition and subtraction of people, places, things. They are often the rock, the one stable thing in our lives during our difficult times as well as our best times. Sometimes, I think we count on them more than they can ever know…or do they?

    I don’t think we really can ever know what they know, and sometimes I think on that too hard. The beauty of dogs is that they live in the moment. As my friend Vivian said of Mojo, after he passed, – and never having met him, she somehow summed up the essence of Mojo’s personality – he lived as if “this MOMENT was the BEST MOMENT” – all possibilities lie here in this MOMENT. I loved Jo’s enthusiasm for life, his ever-optimistic attitude. I’ll never forget when Mojo used to stay at John’s house with me. John did not want dogs on the bed, a “rule” which he has now buckled on. Jo would enter the room and look with that big smile as he planted his head on the edge of the bed, as if to say, “Now, how about NOW? – is NOW a good time?” He would be told “no,” and he’d walk away, feelings unhurt (this really was a dog who just never had a bad day, he never got down)…but he’d return a little later, to try again. Perhaps that is why I miss him so much. I think we all could aspire to have that level of optimism that NOW JUST MIGHT BE THE BEST MOMENT.

    That is the lesson I’m trying to hang onto today.

  14. Perfect. Time = Patience. I would add there is time in each interaction called waiting. I have a new foster dog and just wait for him to look at me before I say good and we go thru a gate or a door (his instinct is to blast out). When I think about it, the “waiting” takes all of an extra few seconds. Fewer words, more waiting.

  15. Nancy, this is a great piece for newbies and old timers! May I reprint it with full credit as a handout for my obedience classes. Blessings, Sandy Lentz, Miracle Acres, LLC, La Grande, Oregon (541-962-5444)

  16. One thing we all need to realize, is that as it takes time for other people to get to know us, so also we need to take the time to know our dogs and give them the time to get to know us.

  17. I absolutely love this Nancy!
    I teach puppy classes and this is spot-on what I’m trying to teach dog owners.
    Would you mind me printing it out and handing it out to them?
    With full credit to you of course. 🙂

  18. Hi Nancy,
    This is the most inspirational piece I think I have ever read, it has truly moved me. I would love to be able to share your words with behaviour clients and dog owners at my training classes; would it be alright to print off copies of the text in order to pass your wonderful message on to others who are struggling? Full credit would of course be given to yourself and your site? Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    Lesley Gornall (Manchester, UK)

  19. Joining the queue. I too would like to provide a copy of this to clients, with full attribution to you and your site. I talk about time and practice, often use an analogy of teaching kids to say please and thank you, how many repetitions of reminding them, repeating the lesson, but eventually, if we are calmly persistent, and reward the successes, it sinks in, and the child remembers to say thank you even in the excitement of Christmas, and the puppy learns how to sit for please, and how to keep the leash loose to keep going. And sometimes we throw a party to celebrate, other times just a quiet smile and carry on.

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