Shut Up and Train
As I creep closer to my next Big Birthday, I’ve come to realize that just cutting a few calories and walking the dog isn’t going to do what I need (which is to reduce the jiggly bits). I reluctantly, recalcitrantly, grudgingly, and unenthusiastically started running. I’ve been running a little over two years. I started out hating it. HATING IT.
Ew, it was awful. I ran just to get it over with. I ran so I could have the rest of the day without the threat of the run hanging over me. Run days were awful. I was grumpy. I started slow (with hate in my heart) with Couch to 5K. It wasn’t as awful as having my wisdom teeth pulled, but it was definitely worse than my annual physical exam.
Anyway, I now love running. LOVE IT. I’m one of those people that used to mystify me: love running? Get real. No one, and I mean no one loves running. Ah, but now I do. And because I fly my nerd flag proudly, I research the hell out of anything and everything – and running is not exempt.
Which is how I found Beth Ridson’s blog Shut Up and Run (SUAR). I’m a blogger (obvi) and I love to read other people’s blogs, especially when they’re not related to dog training. So I found Ms. Ridson’s blog (who has no idea I’m writing about her or that she inspired this post) and was immediately hooked on her no-nonsense mantra and wicked sense of humor. Plus: running!
So for this month’s newsletter, I’m borrowing her sentiment and I’m coming on strong with Shut Up and Train (Your Dog). I’m busting your “I can’t train my dog because…” excuses right here, right now. More myth busting here.
Excuse #1: No Time.
That’s baloney. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. No one gets more, no one gets less. How you spend them, now that’s up to you. Short on time? Train your dog when you’re brewing your coffee or tea. Toasting a bagel? Train your dog! Waiting for the kids to get their soccer clothes on and get in the car? Train your dog!
How: Keep some shelf-stable treats around the house so you can do some on-the-run training. You don’t need a 15 minute block of time! You need about 30 seconds. If you don’t have 30 seconds, you’re in trouble, Jack.
Excuse #2: Stubborn Dog.
Another claim I’m going to call BS on. There are no stubborn dogs. There are dogs that have been (1) taught to listen only if you have food, (2) don’t completely understand what you’re asking, (3) are too distracted, or (4) haven’t been taught what to do. Shut up and train and watch your stubborn dog disappear.
Excuse #3: Never Prepared.
This is an easy one to fix. If you’re willing to train your dog, but just find yourself unorganized and unprepared, I have your fix. Make a list of when and where you’d like to train your dog. Maybe you’d like to teach your dog how to greet guests politely. Great. Keep your dog’s leash near the door. Put some treats in a closed container there, too, while you’re at it. Now, whenever someone comes to the door, you’re ready to train!
Excuse #4: Don’t Know What to Train
I get this one. I know I need to do running things, but not sure what things I should be doing, so I don’t do anything. I hear mention of speed drills, tempo runs, and all kinds of things I don’t know anything about. Doing nothing is bad. Very bad. For runners and for dog owners. For dogs, basic manners build a good foundation for all kinds of advanced and fancy tricks later on. Here are some things you can teach your dog that fall under the “good manners” category:
Excuse #5: Don’t Want to Train.
Yeah, I get this one, too. There are some days I don’t want to run. I’m tired, I’m lazy, whatever. Here’s one of Ms. Ridson’s SUARs posts that pretty much demolishes any runner’s excuses.
Back to dog training. Like running, getting started is the hardest part. I promise you: just get through one training session – one session – and then quit for the day if you want. This is how I get myself outside on my lazy days. I promise myself that I don’t have to go far, I just have to GO. Once I’m out there, it’s the rare day that I go ¼ mile and then head for home. I’m out there and feeling good if I can just get past the getting started part.
There aren’t any excuses on your part. Either your train your dog or you don’t. And just like running (or anything, for that matter), you’ll see the results of your inactivity way before you see the results of your activity – and you won’t like what you see if you don’t do something about it. Now shut up and train!