The Commonsense dog

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Anyone who participates in triathlons will tell you that the actual race is the very last part of a year’s worth of preparation. For an entire year leading up to that moment, they are working on their technique, their endurance, their diet, and their recovery. The outcome of the race itself depends entirely on the time, thought, and effort put in beforehand.

When I first started college, I knew a guy who was in great shape. He played football, basketball, and ran track in high school. Once high school was over, he set his sights on a different challenge—the Iron Man competition held in Coeur d’Alene every year. He signed up at the last minute and put zero thought into his preparation. In fact, he had no preparation. He was in great shape, right?

On race day, he was confident he was going to finish in great time, but by the halfway mark, his legs were weak and he was vomiting. He had never prepared his body for that much excursion in one day, and he was paying for it. He never did finish the race, and he looked completely confused when people twice his age passed him still going strong.

So many people ask me how they can get their dog to stop pulling and going crazy on leash. How they can stop the chaos when the doorbell rings. How they can stop the fence fighting. If you are thinking only of that event and not the preparation for that event, you will likely end of like the high school track star.

Everything we do or don’t do throughout the day is part of our preparation for these events. If you allow your dog to zoom all over the house once it sees the leash, jump like crazy while you are putting it on, and bolt past you out the door once you decide to leave for the walk, how can we ever expect them to be relaxed on the walk?

If energy level is a problem, it needs to be addressed in any circumstance when heightened energy is not appropriate. For example, if your dog goes bonkers when guests come over, your training must start way before that. Start by teaching your dog that wild energy belongs outside and not in the house. Teach them that the doorbell means to go to their beds and not go crazy. Teach them how to be relaxed when you and your family come in and out of the doors. Once they have aced those things, you might be ready to try having guests over again.

We can’t do all of our training during the race. We should be doing our training in preparation for the race. We’ll have much better success.

• • •

Stephanie Vichinsky is

the owner/head trainer of Method K9 in Post Falls

(208) 964-4806.

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