No matter how great you get at something, you're never too advanced for the basics.
Between supporting my beginner students online and working with my borrowed "pandemic puppy" Latte, I've been reminded this week how important it is to revisit the basics in dog training- again and again and again. This means consistently putting work into the everyday training pieces that you need with your dog, like a reliable recall, loose leash walking, or settling on a bed.
There are three really important reasons to revisit your basic foundation skills- often:
1. Dogs lose skills that they don't get to practice (and be reinforced for). If you took piano lessons as a kid but haven't played since, there is a good chance you'll be rusty the first few times you try to play again.
2. Every time you go back to work on the basics with your dog, you have more training experience under your belt and more deposits into your relationship jar. This means that polishing the basics will not only be faster than teaching them the first time, but you'll probably be able to identify different applications for these skills in your daily life (and be able to add additional layers of difficulty).
3. Strong foundation skills strengthen all other skills. You can't build a strong house with a weak foundation- the same is true for dog training.
I'm taking this time to revisit recalls, settling on a bed, and impulse control with my dogs. As I work through these skills for the first time with Latte, it's given me new insight into where I can increase understanding and test the skills of my older dogs.
Going back to basics is the sign of a good trainer- it means you're committed to always learning and maintaining the skills of your dogs over time.