I am often perplexed by people who take their dog training just about as serious as their New Years Diet. That is, they do it for a while and then let it go. In this situation everyone suffers: the people, the dog, the people who come into contact with the dog, the dogs that come into contact with the dog and eventually the system when the dog is dumped into a shelter.
To start out with I will say, “If you don’t have the time, patience or persistence for a dog, get a stuffed pet.” Dogs evolve and need continuous attention. Whether you hired a professional trainer or not – you will need to continue to work with your dog for the rest of his life. That is not to say you must engage in regimented training every day for the dog’s life, but some degree of re-enforcement of the training should continue to keep your dog sharp. Positive re-enforcement, basic obedience, play sessions, etc. must continue as your relationship evolves and as your dog matures. Dogs may not forget what they’ve learned, but dogs love to continue to be challenged.
When people spend 8-12 weeks training their dogs and then move on to the next fad, they get just what they invested…. very little. Once the dog is grounded in some basic training, it opens the door for a solid relationship. The relationship grows as the dog now knows how to relate to you. Worse yet are the people who send their dog away for training and then expect the dog to be “fixed.” That is often the biggest disappointment.
What a dog learns in basic training is how to listen and how to learn. What the human should learn is how to relate to the dog in a manner that is fair. Once we’ve crossed this bridge, it is a shame to throw it all away and just let it be. If you’ve taken the time to work with a trainer, book a session once every 6 months or so and touch up on your training. There will be many fine tuning points that can keep training interesting for a long time. If your trainer is not available for a quick touch up session, find one that is. Reputable trainers will be more than happy to fine tune techniques, commands and training at any phase.
Don’t let the relationship with your dog whither. Working a dog is the single strongest bond you will form with him.
Quitting dog training once you’ve achieved your basic goals is like celebrating your weight loss with a chocolate cake.