Dog Training

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work in Dog Training!

April 11, 2024

For the best results in dog training, avoid the two extremes of “I’m always right and you must do what I say” or the other extreme of “I let the dog do whatever they want because, well, they’re a dog.” Instead, let’s come together as a team and find a higher way, a better way, where we are neither doormats nor tyrants.

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Puppy Training Principles Podcast

Episode 79: Teamwork Makes the Dog Training Dream Work!

Being a team with your dog through dog training | Jason Robbins | Cornerstone Dog Training

What is Your Dog-Training Dream? Teamwork with Your Dog is How You’ll Get There!

When dog training, where are you headed? What do you dream of being “the good life” with your dog? Is your dream being able to go on pleasant, happy walks together in the neighborhood? Or maybe you dream of having your dog not rush the door or jump on people, and instead sit calmly when greeting others. Perhaps you want your dog to be able to go to the store with you or go hiking and camping together.

Whatever your dog-training dream, teamwork with your dog is needed to acheive that dream. So much of training and behavior is about being a team! Teamwork makes the dream work!

My First Time Drafting on a Bike Ride

About 10 years ago, I would commonly ride my bike to work each day. It was 15 miles one way with an awesome paved bike trail most of the way.

What I learned about dog training through a bike ride | Cornerstone Dog Training

I did not have an awesome bike. In fact, I had purchased it from the thrift store for $75 and fixed it up the best I could. It didn’t have the thin tires of a street bike or the wide tires of a mountain bike, it was right inbetween.

It’s called a hybrid bike, which later, I found out, makes some people cringe. But it worked for me. I bought a little speedometer for it, which I loved. I would pedal my little heart out and could get going 18-20 miles per hour when I really got going.

It was awesome! The wind would blow through my hair…if I weren’t wearing a helmet, and I loved it.

The Teamwork Man

Then one morning as I was taking my usual trail, someone shot past me on their fancy street bike. He could faster at 24-26 miles per hour pretty easily with less friction on his skinny tires. He shot past me and I thought nothing of it.

But then he stopped at the head of the trail and looked back at me. As I pedeled my way up to him, he said, “Hey, have you ever drafted before?”

I had to answer honestly, “No. What’s that?”

He explained that that was where one biker is out ahead and the second biker follows straight behind with tires nearly touching at 2 to 4 inches apart. It made me think of bike races I’ve seen where this huge pack of riders stay so close together.

I told him I was game, but admitted, “That sounds kind of dangerous.”

His easy reply was, “Oh, it is. Want to try it?”

“What happens if you need to brake?” I asked.

“I’ll try not to,” he replied.

I Went For It

I still don’t know this man’s name, or anything about him really besides the fact that he was riding a street bike…but I went for it! He assured me it would be really awesome and I wanted to experience what he was talking about.

He took off and was, of course, a lot faster than me. I pumped hard to catch up and try to get behind his wheel. My thighs were burning and I wondered if I could possibly catch up to him or how long I would be able to stay.

The idea of drafting is that you get directly behind another biker and the air sort of Vs off the person in the front. The person behind cozies up into this nice neutral pocket where the going is not as hard. But getting to that cozy, easy-going spot WAS hard!

Hitting the Sweet Spot

Then this wild thing happened! Suddenly when I hit that 4-inch range, my speed didn’t slow but my thigh muscles could relax. It got easier and didn’t require as much effort to keep going the same speed. It was…boom! Instant!

I wasn’t needing to pedal as hard and yet we seemed to be zipping along. I looked down at my speedometer and watched it go UP. What?? Less effort and more speed?! It was an exhilerating feeling. We cruised along like that for 8 to 10 miles and I was all smiles.

At that point, he verred off and slowed to ride next to me. “How was it?” he asked.

“Dude! That was SO awesome!”

“Cool. Well, gotta go. See ya!” he said, and he was gone.

The Thrill of Teamwork

Like I said, I don’t know the guys name, but I love that he was willing to be a team that way and work with me. It created an experience for me I still remember an entire decade later.

He was willing to show me another way to live which I didn’t even know existed. He was willing to actually do the work to do the thing with me.

Teamwork In Dog Training–A Better Way

For teamwork to make the dream work with our dogs, it’s not all about YOUR way or MY way, it’s about a BETTER way.

Learning to be a team with your dog through dog training | Cornerstone Dog Training

Teamwork is taking what your dog already has (their breed, abilities, personality, and their current level of training) and taking what we have (resources we’re willing to invest and how involved you’re willing to be in the training process) to work together for the best way forward.

For the best results in dog training, avoid the two extremes of “I’m always right and you must do what I say” or the other extreme of “I let the dog do whatever they want because, well, they’re a dog.” Instead, let’s come together as a team and find a higher way, a better way, where we are neither doormats nor tyrants.

With this sort of teamwork in our dog training, your dog is given clear, loving boundaries. The dog is also allowed the space to have personality and freedom while not overrunning the house. This higher ground of teamwork is awesome!

Teamwork has always been important to me. In fact, in elementary school I wrote in my little elementary journal that we started a club called “The Teamworks.” I’ve always loved seeing people come together and make something better…together.

So with our dogs, how do we get there?

Dog Training Where Both You and Your Dog WIN

We have to be willing to put in some boundaries. We’ve got to be willing to say: we can make this work for you AND for me. We can’t settle for anything that means one of you is loosing. We’ve got to work to create some win/win (where you both are winning). And that takes boundaries for both us and our dogs! It’s not going to just happen magically. Teamwork takes intention.

The Teamwork of a Focused Heel

That’s why we LOVE the heel: that focused walk. It’s such a huge relationship builder! It’s not longer about you or me, it’s about WE. If you do a true focused walk with your dog, your dog and you have to be on the same plane, the same team. You have to actually be in step together.

Focused heeling with a dog | Cornerstone Dog Training

And when you get to that moment in learning to heel that you’re dog locks in with you and you’re walking together, that’s the dream! It’s so fun. You can feel the entire demeanor of your dog shift and you become a team.

Vision Plus Purpose Equals Dog-Training Motivation

When you get clear on your dream and understand where you’re going, you can find the path to get there, knowing ultimately it will be better for both you and your dog. It’s not you against your dog or visa versa. You’re a team!

With that clear vision comes motivation. Vision plus purpose equals motivation.

Achieving Dreams Often Requires a Coach

If the path to get to your dream seems cloudy and you don’t know what is your first step, that’s where a coach comes in. In the case of dog training, find a trainer that aligns with you and your dream results and let them guide you.

Teamwork will make the dream work! You need to be willing to be on a team with your dog! That is where the magic happens.

Your Success Path to Achieving Your Dog-Training Dreams

If you want a clearly layed out path of how to communicate with your dog and achieve your dog-ownership dreams, check out our 3 courses. If you have a puppy younger than 5 months, you need the Puppy Course. For dogs over 5 months, the transformative Chaos to Calm Course is your ticket. And for dogs struggling with crate/potty training or if you’re preparing to bring a new puppy home from the breeders, the Crate and Potty Training Course is for you!

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