“Failure to be prepared”

Have you ever watched another handler have difficulty controlling their dog at their weekly or monthly maintenance training – maybe the dog’s not clean on its outs, call off’s or guard-and-bark’s – and the handler frustratingly responds with an excuse like “It’s okay, I like my dog to be a little dirty”?

Have you ever heard another handler request additional training time to prepare for an upcoming trial or competition – because there’s no way this team would make a good showing today – when the supervisor responds with “Shouldn’t your dog be ready every day for a competition?”

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”  ~Napoleon Hill

Have you ever heard another handler complain about an upcoming certification in fear of not successfully completing a particular test or two – usually involving control – which will require extra time and effort “to clean up the dog” in the coming days or weeks before the certification?

I’ve seen firsthand and heard about handlers who coast along during the year, not dedicating the time and effort to truly prepare their dog for its missions and tasks – and it’s usually obvious to most observers.  And, when certifications or competitions are ahead, I’ve watched these same handlers become extremely stressed as they attach the fully charged e-collars and bring out the long lines in preparation for battle – the battle of “cleaning up” a dog that’s not been held accountable by the handler, allowed to skip corners and be “a little dirty” during maintenance training throughout the year.

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”  ~Coach John Wooden 

Have you ever wondered what the dog might ask if able to during these UFC moments; “Hey, why are you jumping my shit today?  It was okay yesterday!  WTF?!?!”  Your dog deserves consistency.  Your dog deserves your best effort – every day – because that’s what you expect from your dog.  Your dog should not be allowed to cut corners or be slow with its verbal outs.  Your dog should return to you or down after the first “call off” command and not engage a decoy. Your dog should be under control at all times every single day you work and train.

I recently used this quote from Coach Pete Carroll in my liability class I related to training preparation for street deployments;  “We’re not going to do anything different for this game since we’re not treating this game any different than another game. Every game is a championship game for us, so we’ll treat this one, the last one and the next one exactly the same. And that goes for our practices leading up to it as well.”

You can modify this quote above slightly by incorporating competition (or certification) and training into it to help you avoid trouble if you are not properly preparing for the real competition – the street – each and every training day.

If your supervisor or trainer announced a certification when you arrived at your training tomorrow – with repercussions for failures or poor performance – would you be ready?  Would you be confident or panicked?  Stressed or calm?  I know you would prefer a little extra time occasionally to prepare for these certifications and competitions – some will need more time than others unfortunately – but you don’t get extra time to prepare when something happens right in front of you on the street and you must make a decision to take immediate action.  Are you – and your dog – properly prepared?

Take care, be safe and make every day a training day….

Bill Lewis II

This “reason” was originally shared on April 7, 2014.