Montessori school, Expectations, Dog Training and the CGC test

What on earth do all of those components in the title have in common.

My oldest daughter is going to Montessori school in a few weeks and last night we had our first meeting with all of the teachers and staff who will be working with her classroom. It was a wonderful gathering, and once people started finding out I was a dog trainer and not a cube dweller and that I trained dogs for a living they started coming up to me to ask questions about their pups. That’s not unusual for me at all, but one of the interactions was precious to me and made me start thinking about my clients.

The founder of the school and I started talking about life in general and once he asked what I did for a living he asked “how long does it take to train an owner?” Ahh, the crux of the matter and the hard part about spending all day with dogs.

That owner issue is always on the radar with us and one that no decent dog trainer can dismiss in any level of detail. Finding the right words, visuals, motor skills drill…to get an owner to understand what you are saying is a constant ever changing effort. When you get a bunch of dog trainers together one topic will ALWAYS come up; “Dogs are easy, people are hard.” Evidently it’s the same with Montessori parents. The kids are easily trained in the ways of Montessori but this gentleman said that the parents were quite difficult to bring into the fold, even when they wanted to adapt to the ways of the school. It’s a matter of adjusting habits, managing routines differently, and Expectations. It was a wonderful conversation with this gentleman and I hope to dive into more depth on it with him in the future.

That word Expectations is a slippery thing though. I ran into a problem with it this week as a matter of fact. We had a client who signed up for a number of classes to help her get a Canine Good Citizen certification on her dog. My associate trainer went out for the first session, evaluated where the dog was in regards to the test and started assigning homework for the owner and dog to work on. As with all of my clients, I checked in a day later to find out how things were going and the questions started rolling in from the owner.

“If the dog sits and accepts a pat; but moves, stands, licks, etc will it be breaking the exercise??

ETC is a big word there.

“How is she scored if an aggressive dog approaches her?”

The same as if another dog were to approach. Under control.

And a few others

All of these are clearly outlined in the CGC requirements and we do our best to help people get through the test as quickly as they can. But, as things turned out when I stared answering her questions, her Expectations of what we would do were quite different than what we actually do. What I do not do is just hand out CGC passing test willy nilly as some other trainers do here in Austin. I take the test seriously as I believe it is an excellent tool for determining basic temperament and level of obedience that dogs possess.

We administer the CGC test in a real life environment with real life distractions in order to make it as accurate as possible. And, if you don’t pass all 10 items on the test you need to go back and do some remedial work. I have high Expectations for dogs and owners who take the CGC test and I should hope that the owners would respect what even a minor title like CGC means in the world of dogs. It not a gimmie test by any means, but it is doable by everyone I’ve ever worked with. Like life it takes effort, practice and patience to get through it. It’s not something you should Expect to acquire just by signing up for 3 lessons.

Training the owners, training the dogs, and training kids all comes back to the same place. Patience and practice. None of this stuff comes to you in a box from Best Buy, you’ve got to work for it.

Steve Haynes

What you see if you work and practice

What you see if you work and practice