Training and behavior work with any species (even humans) is a journey. The journey may be short. It may be long. It may be easy. It may be difficult. There is a destination in mind but no solid course. All we know as trainers, therapists or whatever professional you seek, is the journey begins with the first contact.
This first contact is often information gathering. You tell us your concerns. We get background information. We look for various factors that could affect our journey. We ask questions. We may ask you to prepare and assign preliminary work. This preliminary work before the real journey begins is important. It is part information gathering. We need to determine things such as exercise requirements and your dog’s daily needs. We may look at things like boredom and confusion and give beginning exercises to address them. You may be given charts to fill out so we can see what is being done. In order for us to begin, we need this preliminary work started.
Your first task may not seem like much, but preparation is needed. I would hate to hike the White Mountains in January with just flip-flops and a sweatshirt. If you have problems with your preparations, let your guide know, we will help you. Guides are not mind readers. Nor does the journey end with this initial preparation. That Golden Fleece is not a gift for beginning a journey. It is part of much more.
After the initial contact and preparations have been started, your guide will begin creating a map. We can begin to set serious goals. No, we cannot pick up any map and follow it. We cannot grab an atlas or a guide book and wander off. Yes these can help but your journey is personal to you. Our map needs to be drawn up and customized for you. As your guides, we should know the science behind what we do and follow it. However, there are things that will have to be specific to you. Each client is different even if the concern is the same.
Our journey is neither a straight road nor a set path. Along our trek we evaluate things: the climate, the geography, the progress made or not, do we need more supplies or to step back and reevaluate our maps? Something may happen and cause us to change our entire route. Weather may get bad and temporarily hinder progress. We may get to the end and see more paths are opening. We may hit a complete impasse and have to discuss alternatives. Sometimes, yes sometimes, the journey must be halted. These are the hardest ones. They will hit your guide hard; we may feel it a lot more than we let it show. It is part of being your guide – the good and the bad. We hope for the good but understand sometimes…
There are no miracles or magic. We cannot wave a wand or listen to an enchanted hat. We need your help, your honesty. If something is too hard or has affected progress when we are not there, let us know. Secrets do not help.
The work we do with behaviors in any species is a journey. Please understand that there are variable and no guarantees. Just come along with your guides and let’s see where we go.