Start with the end in mind...

When I first began to watch folks work and train Border Collie dogs, I was in awe.  Not only of the dogs, but of the trainers and handlers.  I think that my career as a university professor prepared me well for the fact that learning happens in small bits and that a strong foundation is essential.   For me, training a dog is just like building a plan for a course that I teach.  First, I must know what the learning goals are for the student.  That is, to follow Stephen Covey's advice and "begin with the end in mind". Once we have a learning goal (the end) in mind, we can develop a plan for how to get there.  Just like teaching people, training a working Border Collie is not something like a recipe you can look up in a cookbook. Every creature learns in a different way.  The best teachers are those who can quickly see what type of instruction best suites their pupil, and adapt their style to that.  For dogs, this not only applies to the method used, but even the order with which we introduce skills. As an example, some dogs can begin to learn to drive very early on, while others aren't ready until much later.  The goal of the trainer is to help each dog reach it's maximum potential. That potential is not the same for all dogs.  Some will be much more advanced than others and some handlers need more advanced dogs than others. The skill set of an open-level USBCHA trial dog is very different that those of a dog who will work daily for a livestock producer.  Some might argue, but I believe that both are equally impressive when trained and handled appropriately.  I think that one of the things that draws me to Border Collie dogs is that to watch them work is truly a thing of beauty.  They know why God created them.  They are on earth to be a stock dog and they are 100% sure of that.  If we could only be so lucky as to fully understand our purpose, the world would be a very different place.