Several years ago there was a group of us training dogs at Rick Bauer’s in Wisconsin. On Friday night we bought six really beautiful rib eye steaks, with a big baked potato and a salad to go along with them. When it came time to do the cooking, Ron Ainley, the well- known trainer and manufacturer of custom dog carrying equipment, declared that he would be cooking the stakes. Several eyebrows went up but he was allowed to grill the steaks.

We were all starved so we waited anxiously for the meal to develop. Ron diligently flipped the steaks while expounding on several aspects of the discussion. I kept wondering why it was taking so long because I had repeatedly made it clear that I wanted my steak VERY RARE. I mean still wiggling.

  1. . . Here we go. I took my first bite, guess what? Gray all the way through. It was virtually inedible, almost like trying to chew the edge of a baseball mitt. But later, I used the occasion to illustrate an important lesson in dog training. Training and pressure are sort of like cooking – – – if you do too much, it’s ruined. If the meat is too rare you can always throw it back on and add more heat.

In training also, if you’re dealing with an issue such as getting in the water or force fetch or taking the correct cast or any other lesson – – -go easy at first because you can always add more pressure later. It is the sign of a poor trainer to use too much pressure right off the bat. The results can be very disappointing and may require weeks of back tracking to get to the point where you were before you even began. Even worse, a dog can be ruined and many have, for life.

There are countless stories of heavy – handed trainers who have done great damage to dogs, some which never recovered. This may seem obvious but watch, it happens all the time . . . too much pressure too soon. . . and the results are usually miserable. It’s a much better idea to use pressure or force, whether it’s a stick or e-collar or choke chain, a little more judiciously than just wading in with both barrels. Be careful and use respect and kindness.

So what is the moral of the story?

The moral is just because you can build a great dog box doesn’t mean you can cook meat.