I was grabbing a coffee the other day from my favorite place-incoming shameless plug for the best coffee on the shore- Rise Up on Riverside Drive in Salisbury. I had a few minutes of extra time between lessons, so I skipped the drive through and went inside. Noticing my shirt embroidered with my logo, one of the cool dudes (I really feel like a douche typing barista, so I'm sticking with cool dude; they have cool dudes and cool gals there who make the coffee) asked me if I am a dog trainer. I said, "yes, I am!" He replied, "I have this Boston Terrier, he's really sweet. I've used the Montessori method with him so he gets to do everything he wants.." I said, matter-of-factly, "hahaha, that's great, if that works for you, it works!" A few of his co-workers chimed in about the dog jumping and barking happily most of the day and we all had a good laugh.
This got me thinking. First of all, I Googled Montessori and learned what I could about it within a 30 minute window while my husband was bathing our son that night. I'll give you the advice to look around yourself, and check out this link to the American Montessori Society website- it seems pretty reputable, and isn't Wikipedia. In short, this method of educating children allows (reasonable and safe) freedom to develop and learn from their environment with children younger and older than them. They are supervised, but not directed towards specific activities (again, unless safety becomes an issue). I'm sure there are elements I'm missing, but I hope I've got the gist- feel free to leave comments below if there is something really important I missed. Anyway, this guy has adapted a similar method with his dog- free reign within reason to explore the environment and learn with little interruption or direction. Some may argue that it's not truly Montessori, or that it is and it's terribly irresponsible. I really don't care. He loves his dog, his dog is happy, he is able to have friends and family over for a visit without anyone getting mauled. If we were talking about a mastiff, it might be a different story, but we're not, are we?
I'm trying not be be too long winded with this because it's almost bedtime, but I really want to try and make a point.
My point is that I don't just feel this way about Boston Terrier who lives with a cool dude who makes coffee at a swell coffee place. I feel this way about dogs who live with my friends, family and clients. I always ask my clients what their expectations are for their dog and from me. I always ask what they want from training and I do everything I can to ensure that they get just that. Personally, I prefer a dog who knows a few basic commands at a minimum, who listens well in all situations and comes when called. Luckily for me, that's what a lot of dog owners want. This takes work and time and patience. And proofing. And generalizing. I'll go into those later on someday. Some people just want to hang out with their dog and not worry about all this training nonsense.
I'm ok with that as long as they are, even if that never changes.
I'll only say this once (today): Dog training is like quitting cigarettes- until you are committed to it, it's not going to go well for you and you won't be happy with it.
That's all- train your dog or don't train your dog, but be happy and treat them well either way, alright?