Today was my first official training session with Jorge, and his partner Yvon. Jorge has been training Yvon since January, to become a professional dog trainer. I am *extremely* flattered that he has been so very generous in taking me on as a trainee as well, especially since he and I both know that most students would be paying at least a few grand for the same education that Jorge is offering to me right now. O___x Although we've agreed that I am not getting this for "free"... I found out today just how challenging these next few months are actually going to be, and believe you me, I am going to be working my butt off for this!!
Today we took three of his clients' dogs out for a training walk session, for about 3 hours. These three all happen to be 14-month-old siblings, AmStaffs that Jorge bred from his star female, Charm. The level at which these dogs perform is top-notch, and Jorge's communication with them and the methods that he uses to train is actually quite unique. Nothing like I've seen any other trainer do, so far (except maybe for Cesar Millan). In fact, I'm now finding that I have to take what I traditionally know of obedience and behavioral training, set them aside, and start from the ground up, in order to fully understand and embrace Jorge's specific training techniques.
Oh. My. Gods.
What a very profound and humbling experience!
While Jorge works on a fairly logical and intellectually-based level with his dogs, it takes some hard thought and *extreme* focus to fully get the impact of the methods used, and what results they each produce. Actually, I already caught myself making so many mistakes... I had to work on correcting myself even more than the dog that I was given to handle (and I got a feisty one, too!).
This was not just your average basic obedience. That I can do. This is much more focused on behavioral training and family pack structure, knowing a lot about canine body language, social behavior and psychology, and shaping very, very specific behaviors in the dogs - something that goes way over the heads of your average dog-owner. A *huge* factor of it demands absolute consistency... and of course timing for corrections, motivation, and praise need to be *spot on* for the training to turn out successful results, every time.
Our jobs will be to fully understand these methods, and eventually be able to present them in a way that is accessible to the average dog-owner.
I felt like everything I thought I knew about dog-training got blown out of the water, today. :-P Jorge told me not to feel bad or doubt my ability, after all this was only my first day learning his personal techniques. He also knows that this is only one method of training, out of many, and he is open to using and learning many additional methods in the future, but wants both Yvon and I to get his specific Program down-pat first, so that we are all on the same page when we eventually get to teach classes.
I also liked the fact that Jorge asked us both questions about what we were doing and why, rather than just giving us the answers, which would be too easy. At the end of each exercise, he'd ask us how we felt about things, and what we were seeing/getting out of the lesson. He'd also ask us what we might do differently in X, Y, or Z situation, and why, and what results we might expect. I always get stuck on those kinds of questions, and worry that I will give an answer that makes me sound like an idiot.
But Jorge said that both Yvon and I did a great job today, with handling the pups - of course the big trick will be to get the dogs to see us in the same regard that they see Jorge. Imagine trying to get three "pit bulls" all walking together nicely, in a high-traffic area, and doing off-leash down-stays for 15 minutes outside of a Starbucks while people are walking back and forth constantly, AND throw in a couple of outside dog-distractions! And they stay put, or they do push-ups, at a simple calm command! Except for the one that I had... she kept challenging both Yvon and I, to the point where Jorge did eventually have to take over controlling her. But what a friggin' difference it made!! O____o
He says that it's totally possible for us to get the exact same results from those dogs - or from any other dogs - that he does. He says that he's been doing this line of work for so long, he's no longer interested in continuing to hold the reins. Instead, he wants to create job opportunities for those who are really passionate and dedicated about offering the public a whole new way of looking at how people own and interact with their dogs. If we want to be trainers, we can go ahead and do it! He says, take it! But we need to be willing to completely make it our own.
"You can say that you're committed to washing the car... but how do I know that you're really committed to washing the car? By you going out and washing that car!"
Basically, although he's given us the opportunity to shine, we will ultimately decide if we'll be successful or not. That takes so much damn self-control and focus... my Gods. I am so totally on board with this, and committed to learning as much as I can. I want to be able to do well, and prove that I am a worthy pupil in this!
I am going to another class of his downtown, tomorrow morning. At some point next week, the three of us also need to get together and start planning our class curriculum, and list the goals of what people can expect to get out of the Program. Jorge also wants Yvon and I to put together Bios.
This is all quite exciting stuff! :)