Zelda and I have been training since the first day I brought her home at 8 weeks old. Well, with dogs you’re always training, but what I mean is we have been intentionally training since that first day.

I thought a lot in the beginning about what behaviors were most important to me and which I could live with if they were less than ideal. This was my first time with full responsibility for a dog and I wanted to do it “right.”

It turns out there are a couple things wrong with that desire. First of all, there is no right way to raise a dog. You could argue there are some definite wrong ways but certainly no one right way.

Second of all, there’s a chasm between wanting to do something and having the ability to do something. Even the world’s best trainers have their puppy struggles. (Susan Garrett’s challenges with her dog Buzz come to mind. She writes in her book Shaping Success about crying in the parking lot outside of puppy class. This is a woman who had already won agility championships and her challenges with her puppy brought her to tears.)

Today is nearly 2 years since that first day with Zelda and we still have some big things we need to work on. We have a lot of things going well for us and I’m a lot smarter than I was then, which means the only reason we haven’t achieved the goals I set for us two years ago is lack of commitment.

I’m ready to change that and if you’re reading this, well jump on in friend because you’re coming along too.

At a minimum, the things we still need to work on include:

  1. Politely greeting people when they come to our house
  2. Coming when called, even at the dog park
  3. Walking on a loose leash
  4. Eliminating her attention seeking behavior of barking at us at home when she’s bored

And lest I end on a negative note, here are the things we have going for us:

  1. Great socialization with all people, dogs, places, and things
  2. Fantastic place skills, including going to her crate and dog bed on cue
  3. High value for playing with me
  4. Solid roll over
  5. Great say “please” skills, especially at meal times

I like to say Zelda and I are undefeated in training. We’ve never failed at something we've fully committed to.

Next up is turning that commitment into action, but first, I need to decide where to start and how...