It’s Not The Dog, It’s The Owner

I’ve heard this saying and said it a million times and yet I still hear the same excuses and the same complaints – heck, I’ve said them a few times myself in frustration over my own dogs.  Having owned and trained my own personal dogs for as many years as I have and competed with them, I’d rather give them the time of day than to rush them.  Here’s to you, Ms. Rainey for another fabulous bit of authorship.  You rock!

This entry is dedicated to all of the dogs out there who are slow to go – including my own Lyric, who’s ADD goofy behavior has often driven me nuts.


How often have we all heard that saying? How often have we all SAID that saying? I’m willing to wager it’s a fair amount for us all. I wonder, though, how many people really take into consideration what it truly means. For sure there are instances of dogs that are too damaged physically or emotionally to do a certain job or task but I have to often how often one finds oneself in such a situation. I think that in today’s world of high speed technology and “bigger, badder, better” mindsets we often lose sight of one of the greatest tricks we have in our trainer’s bags. Time. It seems like such a simple notion, doesn’t it? Time, by definition, is a common term for the experience of duration and a fundamental quantity of measuring systems. Why then, when none of us knows exactly what our personal “duration” will be are we so addicted to the notion that we must confront an experience, master it, speed through it and set another mark in the distance to aim our warp speed engines at? Simply put, we have time. A select few have managed to find joy in the journey, but what about the baby steps of just finding joy in today? in the hour? in the now?

I constantly see younger and younger dogs in the rings training, competing and then being tossed aside for the next new dog, the next better dog. My question is why? At what point did we forget that it is our time and our efforts that we put into these dogs that results in the benefits we get back out of them? We have a saying about canine nutrition (that we often also apply to breeding): garbage in, garbage out. I believe the same is true of training and time. You cannot put 5 minutes into your dog a day and expect the dog to give you the focus and working drive of a dog that is receiving 50 minutes a day. It just does not work that way.

Beyond that a dog that earns it’s UCD title at 12 months old with a score of 95 gets the exact same certificate as a dog that earns its UCD title at 5 years old with a score of 71. So why the rush? If you don’t get a “super awesome hotdog bonus wow” certificate, then why push? My personal experience is that even an extra certificate wouldn’t be worth the rush (and subsequent foundation shortcuts) but that’s a topic for another lengthy note. Enjoy your dog. You can’t guarantee that you will be here tomorrow. You can’t guarantee that your dog will be there tomorrow. But you can guarantee no regrets if you spend your time appreciating what your dog is doing (or trying to do) for you, spending your time judging your successes and not your failures and refusing the play the “I need a better dog” game. In the end, we get the dog we NEED, not always the one we thought we wanted.

2 thoughts on “It’s Not The Dog, It’s The Owner

  1. Katie

    Luce got her CD at the tender age of 8 and I could not have been more proud of her. It was such a journey to get there. She taught me so much.

    But for all the patience I had with her career, I find myself struggling with being patient with the crazy Border Collie. I got him at the same time as a number of other people at my training club got puppies, and those dogs (at three) are now WAY WAY further along than he is. I find myself feeling so frustrated, but why on earth does it matter? Who cares what everybody else is doing? The comparison game helps no one.

  2. Jen Rainey

    We can always benefit to remember that long after our trophies have tarnished and our certificates have crumbled to dust, our memories will remain clear and untouched, the only thing that can be viewed as many times as we like without depleting itself.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *