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How Dog Training is Like Marathon Training, Part II

These long runs sure are a good way to get some alone-time and really think! Adding to my previous post about this from a few days ago, here are a few more ways that "dog training is like marathon training."

1) Train honest. There are so many times when I think "Oh, I'll just turn down this street instead, it's only one block short of where I was planning to's so hot..." but if I did that, I'd only be cheating myself. I'm the one who will have to live with the consequences of "cheating" in training.

In a similar vein, if you tell your dog "sit" and he doesn't, and then you push his butt down so he's sitting and shrug, you're just cheating yourself AND your dog. If your dog doesn't sit, hold out! Wait for the sit! If you still don't get it then you have to go back and ask yourself if you need to practice more, if you need more distraction work, etc. But don't just get lazy and tell yourself "Oh, I'll let it go this one time."

2) People will help you.

Runners are some of the friendliest people I've ever met -- encouraging, kind, and knowledgeable. If I have a problem -- for example, "runner's trots," and if you don't know what that is then you ARE SO LUCKY -- then I know I can just ask an experienced runner and get some helpful feedback and advice.

Many (not all, unfortunately) dog people are the same way. Yes there *are* some snarky and judgmental dog people out there, but you don't have to listen to them. Take people's advice with a grain of salt and do further research (or ask me!) if something doesn't sound quite right, but you can get great advice from vet techs, pet sitters and friends with well-behaved dogs.

3) Training isn't always convenient. Since I'm on "summer scheduling" for dog training, I usually work with dogs in the mornings and then again in the evenings, when the temperature is the most comfortable. Guess what times that leaves me for running. Correct! The middle of the day, when the sun is at its hottest! NOT convenient. But something I've gotta do, if I want to reap the benefits later.

Lots of things about training dogs is inconvenient. If you're working with a leash aggression situation and need to drive to a big open space where you have relative control of your distance from other dogs, that's way less convenient than just leashing up and wandering your own 'hood. Polite leash walking (no pulling) requires what seems like a neverending loop of resets and honor stands. Distraction work requires cutting up training treats ahead of time and dusting off the treat pouch. I think it's best to just acknowledge, "Yeah, this is totally inconvenient, boo," and then go ahead and do it anyway.

4) You might get addicted. The addictive nature of running is legendary. In fact, you sometimes hear of people who become literally addicted to the endorphin rush "high" they experience from the run. I don't have any experience with "runner's high," but I do love the experience of running, and some days nothing seems to go right until I get my run in. I don't know if I'm actually "addicted" to running, but I sure can see how people can get that way!

Similarly, dog training is one of those things that gets more interesting and more rewarding the longer you do it. After that initial clumsy, figuring-things-out stage, and maybe minus a discouraging session every now and then, dog training may quickly become a highlight of your day. There are actually many professional dog trainers who got into the field after working a complicated dog through a serious behavioral issue. Lots of training time and BAM! -- addicted.

Happy training!

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