|Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 6:10am PST |
|Love all the replies to this, thank you everyone for sharing.
My idea of an 'experienced handler' is someone with a combination of knowledge: Actual literal experience with a type of dog, and a more general understanding of how to read and shape dogs.
For my own examples, I'd consider all of those people experienced. I do think it gets used as a buzzword and loses its meaning, like Ember said. I also think we'd all like to believe we have a very tough and special breed that only a select few could turn into the wonderful dogs we own.
Nare- I love your re to Miyu. The understanding you're talking about is what I mean with the second half of my idea of experienced.
I've always been very business with dogs- Had wild success in rehabilitating, had wild success managing the packs of dogs at the free-run "every dog allowed" kennel I worked at (The waivers on their daycare were a sight to behold!), my own dogs were obedient and flawless, etc. My boyfriend, when I met him, had never trained a dog beyond sit and in my opinion at the time was well-intended but just completely ignorant about dogs! He introduced to me this whole chunk of the bond I'd been overlooking, though, and made me realize that in my focus on training I was missing out on the depth of emotion dogs had to offer (and making myself a very BORING human, to them).
Embracing that is what repaired the break in my relationship with my husky. We did NOT get along. He thought I was terribly boring and kind've a jerk, I thought he was an un-affectionate impulsive spaz.
Once it clicked with me, 'HEY, it's not the dog's job to adapt to training, it's the trainer's job to adapt to the dog, stop pushing him away!', once I took the time to listen to him and work WITH him instead of ON him, suddenly he just bloomed into this eager, delighted, clingy, perfect dog.
If he had been a less forgiving dog, I would have ruined him. That understanding fell on me one day like a ton of bricks, and the guilt was just immense. I had been doing such an injustice to this dog, who it turned out was a dream, I was just too inexperienced to see it.
My Akita on the other hand.. easiest dog ever, right from the start. Sure, he had a window in there where he wanted to destroy stranger dogs (Ok, not even that, it was B/W huskies with distinct masks. He still distrusts them, but tells me about it instead of them! ), but that's where my experience is. We worked through it as soon as it started and now he's beautiful with other dogs again. I'm certain he'll find more windows where his genetic DA wants to slip through, and I know how to handle it.
Tiller- I'm looking for those horror stories in relation to the Malinois! I can't seem to find any. The worst Mal I've met was the little show-bred girl recently who was shy with strangers.. and she was still less skittish than the average (I assume byb) shepherd I run into.
I've been back-seating Mals (along with BC's) as 'some day, when I'm ready' for years, trying to build up the knowledge to be experienced enough for one. I don't feel ready yet, but I do feel like it's in the foreseeable future! A big sign that I wasn't ready was my lack of understanding for my super-energy eager husky. I took a moment and thought about that and said to myself, 'if I can't harness THAT energy, what makes me think I want to have a dog with MORE of it?!'. The more I learn with Niko, the better equipped I feel to begin considering life with a Mal. The more patience and maturity I learn overall, the better equipped I feel to begin considering life with a Mal.
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