Updated: Oct 7, 2019
A lot of people tell me how much they envy my job as someone who "gets to play with puppies and dogs all day." Every time I hear this, I just nod my head and smile. I might have a tiny twitch when I hear it though, as images of dirty kennels, muddy paws, and torn-to-shreds beds and toys flash between my eyes.
I ignore that immediate reaction because: It's true. I do have a really fantastic job, but it's not so much because I am around puppies all day (Let me tell you, they are a LOT less cute at 2am on their 3rd potty break of the night). It's because I'm really passionate about what I do. This is important to the success of CC, and the health, intelligence, and beautiful personalities of our dogs and pups. I treasure this part of my work. I love it. And, because of that love, I spend every day, all day, working. Think I'm being dramatic? Here's what an average day looks like here at CC:
6am: Puppies are AWAKE! And they are ready to play, people! Get on it! Outside and playtime!
6:30am: Clean all kennels and bedding. Sanitize ALL THINGS. Change blankets, sweep floors, and switch toys for clean ones.
7am: Breakfast. Don't feed the puppies and dogs at the right time, and you WILL hear about it. From them. Over and over again.
8am: Social media and emails. Oh, so many posts and emails. During this time, there are at least 1 pup with us in the office. If we're just starting LVL I, that means I have to stop what I'm doing around every minute or two so I can either correct and redirect, or praise for good behavior. That makes something as simple as emailing a long endeavor, at times! Other pups and dogs not inside are out for yard play and fun!
9:30am: Bones and training! Puppies and dogs work on their training skills at this hour. That means working anywhere from 2 - 6 dogs for around 20 minutes a piece. Dogs and pups who are not working are having their morning snack - a delicious pig's ear - and getting accustomed to being in their crates or kennels alone for short periods.
10:30/11am: Nap. Dear lord, thank goodness for nap time. This is when I can get most phone calls done without interruption.
12:30pm: Wakey-Wakey! Time to go back outside and take a mile walk, everyone! This is the perfect time to walk (weather conditions allowing) since the pups and dogs have just woken from their naps, have had plenty of time to digest breakfast AND any treats/bones from training, and the heat of the day may wear them out faster (fingers crossed). During the walk, we're still training. I stop, change direction, praise and correct as needed. The whole time. This is for about an hour.
1:30pm: Cool down and yard play. The dogs get to laze around in the puppy pool and play in the yard. Us trainers? Nope. It's poop patrol time. Yes, that is really a thing here. Find ALL the turds! While you're at it, sanitize and fill all waters after dogs and pups have splashed around and played in them.
3pm: Nap. Whew. Nap time again. More phone calls. Maybe some family time, if you're lucky. Don't forget to take a puppy with you inside. Each puppy gets at least 45 minutes of indoor time alone with family and trainers.
5pm: WAKE UP AGAIN! WOO! Back outside we go. Yard play and training for all. Again. YAY.
6pm: Wash all bowls. Change any bedding needing it. Sanitize anything that may have gotten the Nasty on it throughout the day.
6:30pm: Family time inside. Each dog is brought in individually to be with the family and trainer for 30 minutes alone, then 30 minutes with a fur-pal. Play, train, and laze. Fun for all!
9pm: Last potty walk. A simple walk down the .1 driveway is enough for all the dogs and pups to go on their last potty break. Groom all dogs before bed! That means brush, clean ears, wash eyes, and do body checks.
9:45pm: Bedtime. Lights out, quiet time...Usually. Depending on puppy ages, prepare to wake up every 2.5 hours to do potty breaks. Enjoy.
Bonus: Don't forget to take videos, photos, and more. Editing and uploading training videos, updates, and fun clips can take up to 4 hours EACH! Thanks, YouTube...You're slower than anything else on the Internet, we're pretty sure.
This routine is a long one, and as you see it goes far beyond the average 8 hour work day. But, what do they say? Do something you love, and you won't work a day in your life. That's a fact. And it's also a fact that not every day like this is super enjoyable. Sometimes, the dogs are extra rambunctious. Sometimes we trainers are tired and grumpy. And, a lot of the time, the weather is a pain in the butt.
Regardless though, it's all worth it. Because with strong, steady routines like this, we know that each of our CC pups and dogs is getting the time and attention they need and deserve. When you kennel dogs for too long, or leave them for long periods without mental or physical stimulation in a training program, you create a real imbalance in that dog. They begin to only understand interactions with people as training and work. While they may still enjoy that time (the alternative is being in a cage, wouldn't you prefer to work?), it is not a balanced interaction. When this happens, dogs and puppies develop strange fears of things we find normal in our every day lives. Examples:
These are just a few of the things I've seen grown adults and puppies afraid of when they come from a place or program that does not have a balanced in-home training environment.
So, when I get crazy looks at times for having the "insane" schedule that we do here at CC, I have no problem explaining why it's this way, and why I require it to be this way. It is for the sake of the dogs and puppies in our care, and they are our responsibility at all times. Not from 9am-5pm. Yes, on Saturdays and Sundays. And yes, even on holidays. Animals do not take days off, and they have no care for holidays and weekends, your hangover, or your early winter cold. It can be a pain, but it's the truth. And if by chance you're reading this because you'd like to be involved in this profession, this is something you need to accept and embrace. if you don't, not only will your dogs and animals suffer, but so will you and your business.
When you're looking around at facilities, breeders, or training programs, be sure to ask them what "A Day in the Life" is like there. They should be able to tell you pretty straight-forward what each day is like. They should even be able to provide you with videos or pictures of some of the activities. Ever notice how many times we at CC share our daily walks, evening playtime, field trips, and more? I do that for a reason:
We believe in transparency. I don't fear that my "trade secrets" are going to get out. I hope they do! I hope many others begin to adapt and take hold of the Classic Canines methods, because I know that it took me almost 15 years to develop this program to be what I truly feel is successful, healthy, and positive for all involved.
So, for those of you looking to adopt your new family member, remember that with us, you're going to find lots of videos, lots of photos, and a lot of lengthy emails or blog posts (like this one) that help explain what we do, and why we do it. You deserve to know where your family member is coming from, what they've experienced, and who - exactly - raised them before you. Don't you agree?