An adorable puppy waiting to learn. 

What is training?

Training - intended for use during an introductory, learning, or transitional period.

So training is in the beginning; at the start of your relationship with your dog.  But many never even get started; they think that their dog will somehow learn from them without them ever actually taking the time to train.  Do you belt out commands to your dog that you have never officially trained them on?  I see it all the time; people shouting "sit, stay, heel" at their dog while their dog has no idea what these words mean.  No, dogs do not come equipped with the knowledge of these words.  Training takes time and if you want your dog to clearly understand what these words you throw around mean, you have to work hard to teach them. 

Training is repetition, reward and error markers.  As a positive reinforcement trainer, there is no forcing a behavior.  Each behavior is learned through the use of baby steps; rewarding each tiny progression until it's finality. At that point you can train the full behavior; adding  minor distractions next until you can then train it in public.  That is a lot of work.  Each and every behavior must go through the same rigors to be solid and useful.  Of course all dogs are not the same; some may fly through the stages while others linger or get stuck. 

Training for me is about far more than just individual behaviors.  It is about manners in life; the whole package of life, the day to day.  Many dogs that I meet know their sits, down and stay; but can they perform them in life?  Have they been asked to do anything other times of the day and not just training time?  Many people tell me "they are great when we are training."  Well, yes but that sucks.  I hate unruliness, I am not a fan of "out of control" dogs.  So we have rules, lots of them and everyone needs to abide by them, human and dog. 

Of course my dogs are not always perfect; there is no perfect dog like there are no perfect people.  They have times of unruly, crazies but if I say "enough" it means "enough."  Lack of training only causes confusion, stress, frustration and unhappiness for both the dog and the human involved.   Training is essential, our dogs come to us knowing how to be a dog.  Some dog behaviors are unwanted in our human world; that is where the training comes into our day to day.  Once we train the behaviors we then need to enforce, the workout stage. 

Training is in the beginning, continuing to enforce is after the fact.  That is the Sheriff's job and you my friend are the new Sheriff in town.  :)