The Avon PTO had a good idea: Why not use a teacher in-service day to allow Avon High School students to find out about what some local business people do for a living? They called it SPARK and the first one was held on March 18th. Teacher’s Pet was there with two dogs, our Airedale, Dazz and Izzy, a lovely German Shepherd that I borrowed from a client. We had a good time. A total of about 60 kids attended our three classes. I enjoyed the opportunity to get on my entrepreneurial soap box and encouraged them to consider that a business opportunity might await them at the intersection of where their interests and talents meet the needs of their community. They asked some good questions and obviously enjoyed having a couple of very handsome and lovable dogs with them in class.
One of the wonderful things about teaching is that it requires you to clarify concepts in your own mind so that you can articulate them in a clear and helpful way to others. Our day at Avon High School helped me to do that vis-à-vis the training process and the underlying assumptions we make about dog nature. The number one assumption is that dogs can reason. That’s important because if they can reason, then once they learn something, it’s fair for us to expect them to take responsibility for following through on what they know.
So in addition to the dog’s innate intelligence, here are the main tools in my dog trainer’s tool belt: his trust in his owner or handler (this develops further as the process unfolds), association (particularly associating words with action), timing, consistency, accuracy, repetition, incrementalism, and accountability. Over the next several blogs we will look at these characteristics and techniques in more detail. In the mean time, enjoy the pictures.