In my many decade dog training journey, I currently find myself in a place where I have come full circle in how I measure training success. As a teenager, when I first started training my dogs, it was for fun as well as for practical reasons. My family needed dogs that listened, behaved in public and were polite when guests came. When I adopted Tynan, training was necessary to calm him down as well as acclimate him to his new (fourth) home. The instructor was enamored with Tynan's genius and work ethic and encouraged me to sample the few dog sports a mixed breed was allowed to participate in back then. Tynan and I had fun trying out different sports and training but in the end, all of his advanced training just made him a fabulous partner. Tynan went everywhere with me. He was the mascot of the sports teams of several kids I cared for as well as many of the health clubs where I taught classes. The front desk staff would argue over who got to have Tynan while I taught my classes and my students whined if I left Tynan at the front desk.
This was the happy life I had pictured for Wilhelm as well. I had no intention of going as far in training with Wilhelm as Tynan and I did. But the behavior problems that Wilhelm developed when Tynan died, led us back into basic obedience classes. When I discovered Wilhelm's passion for learning and eagerness to please, we tried agility, and our relationship completely changed. I wept when my little ten pound problem weiner earned his first title. I truly couldn't believe how far Wilhelm and I had come as a team. Wilhelm had become such a wonderful dog and I was hooked on the successes of dog sport competition. Or so I thought.
Pride swells in me when any of my pets accomplish anything. The dogs, cat and parrot I currently spend my life with all love to learn new things and most especially soak up one-on-one time with me. But I don't judge success in training by completion of a trick or title. My pets and I are a success when we work as a team at anything.