Those of you who have been following Chrome Chronicles for a while may have noticed that I have not been blogging as often as I used to. Now, this is not at all a reflection of how much I love pole dancing, blogging and everything that comes with it, but it’s because in October last year, this chonky boy arrived.
Everyone, meet Rex! A two and a half year old Staffie/Bullmastiff mix breed who turned my once relatively well organised world into chaos. We were fostering him for the wonderful charity Zante Strays, however, being the soppy cunt that I am after approximately 24 hours I fell in love with Rex and my husband agreed that we could keep him.
Now, any dog owners who read this will know that despite what Disney and umpteen other dog TV shows and films depict, owning and training an obedient pooch is not a walk in the park. It takes time, patience and above all, a lot of effort from you to create a happy, well-adjusted and obedient pooch.
Sounds similar to a certain other hobby doesn’t it? As weird as this may sound the more I got into training Rex and seeing his progress, the more I realised just how much pole dancing and dog training actually have in common. If you’ve made it this far and have found yourself wondering if I’ve completely lost the plot, read on below for proof that contrary to popular belief, I haven’t.
Fucking hell it is hard work
If dog training and pole dancing were pieces of piss, then there would be no need for dog training classes and everyone would be attending Advanced level pole classes after a week, but alas, that is not the case. I fucking love dogs as much as if not more than I love pole dancing, but Christ alive I am finding training one to be an ongoing journey, a bit like good old pole dancing. After some of our training sessions, my boy is smashing it, making huge progress, and I feel like I have cracked being a dog handler. Then boom! The following session he is being a stubborn pupper, getting distracted by literally everything possible and not in any mood to train. This is pretty much a mirror image of how my pole training life has gone. One minute I’m smashing everything, the next I am feeling like a slug incapable of doing anything I attempt. The moral of the story here, with your dog and with pole, is to keep fucking going. Yes you will hit plateaus and feel like no progress is being made but if you stay dedicated, trust me it will be! Both my dog and I are currently hitting a bit of a plateau, as he has gone up a grade in his training classes and I’ve gone up a level at pole, however I’m convinced that if we keep at it we will smash through our collective plateaus! After all, it takes much longer to achieve the harder shit, so I’ll be patient and enjoy the ride.
Going in with a rescue dog is a bit like starting pole as an adult – you have to undo all the bad shit first
Apart from my childhood dog, all my dogs have been rescues. Now, I am not here to judge anyone who has bought from a reputable and responsible breeder (if you want to buy a puppy from a breeder ALWAYS check to make sure they’re legit, ask to see both parents and never buy from a puppy farm). However my husband and I have both decided that we are pretty much guaranteed to always adopt rescue pooches.
It’s fucking lovely to rescue any animal from a life in the shelters, however teaching them to be a pet can be hard work. Our Rexie boy had been in the shelter for over a year and when we first bought him into our home he was a terrorist! He ripped blinds down from the window, didn’t know any commands and wasn’t house trained. Now, after eight months of having him, he is pretty much spot on at behaving like a bloody star in the house (out of the house not so much, but we will get on to that later).
The point I am trying to make here after all that dog related waffle is that taking on an adult rescue dog is very much like taking up pole as an adult with no prior dance, gymnastics or sport related background. You have to try and undo all the years of bad shit you have done to your body in terms of zero strength and flexibility training over the years before you can start to see the old pole gains being made – that was definitely the case for me anyway!
Take not notice of bossy unqualified “experts”
Remember that irritating fuckwit in the pole studio who offers you unsolicited advice on how to achieve all manner of tricks when you’re getting along perfectly fine as you are? Well those utter cretins are ten a penny in the dog training world! They often don’t actually own a dog, but their mum’s cousins’ aunties budgie had one once and that makes them a damn expert, or they do own a dog but their dog is in fact a bit of a dickhead. They’re convinced they know exactly how your dog should be trained and are quick to slide in with their advice. Well they can slide the fuck away as far as I’m concerned.
As Ru Paul says, “unless they’re paying your bills pay them bitches no mind.” If your pole training is safe and you’re not being cruel to you dog, you do you. You know your dog at the end of the day. Of course we all need advice in our pole and dog training journeys, but when we need it speak to a trained professional or someone who is bloody brilliant at it, not some local know it all who actually knows fuck all.
Don’t give yourself, or your pooch a hard time – you’re trying your best!
Now this is advice I need to get on board with myself. I used to be horrendous for negative self-talk in general, but especially so with my pole dance journey. I used to beat myself up for not being able to do certain moves, taking longer than usual to achieve stuff and in general give myself a hard time for not becoming Sarah Scott overnight. However, since taking some time to reflect on my attitude towards myself and self-care during the past year – I have started cutting myself some slack and remembering that pole is a journey, not a destination or a tick list that needs to be completed as quickly as possible.
It’s exactly the same with dog training. It’s an ongoing journey, so as hard as it may be do not get frustrated or angry with your pooch if they’re not yet at the level you would like them to be yet. Be patient, put in the work, believe in them and yourself and you’ll get there. We all get angry and frustrated with our bodies (pole related) and I have definitely been in tears when Rex has been misbehaving, but dwelling on feeling like shit never resolved anything. Let your emotions come to the surface, pass, then move on. We all have bad training sessions, both on the pole and with our dogs, but what counts is that you keep on going and believing in yourself.
Coar, that turned into some hippy bollocks didn’t it?
Do not push your body or your pooch to achieve things they are not ready for!
As one of my favourite pole dancers Misty once said, If you can’t yet Janeiro or have a solid needle scale, you wouldn’t try and train a Rainbow Marchenko, well same logic applies to your pooch. No matter how simple you may think a command is, until your dog has mastered it completely, do not try and rush them onto the next step.
An obvious example of this is allowing your dog to roam freely off lead when out about out. An indestructible recall, where you can allow your dog to be off lead around all manner of distractions and know for a fact they will not run off and will come straight back to you first time when called may look easy, but is actually pretty advanced and hard to perfect. I’m not saying I’m in any way perfect, as I have definitely tried pole moves I was in no way ready for (I cringe hard thinking back to my first Ayesha attempts!) and let go of Rex’s lead before he was ready but I sure as shit won’t be doing that again.
As mentioned above, pole dancing and dog training are journeys, so enjoy where you are and stop trying to constantly get to the next stop on the line.
You’ll make mistakes, but learn from them and move on
No one in the history of pole dancing and dog training has ever not made a mistake in their learning. Whether it’s your technique, letting yourself (and your dog) get into bad habits or having a massive break from training because you just can’t be arsed, we’ve all been there. However, as the cliché goes what’s important is that you learn from your mistakes and keep on going.
As both an amateur pole dancer and amateur dog trainer, I have made approximately 68,257 mistakes. Be it attempting tricks I’m not ready for, training my dog in the complete wrong way or not getting my knee grip in properly and tumbling off the pole, you name it, I’ve done it. But will I give up because of my mistakes? Will I fuck. Be it dog training or pole training, when you inevitably make a mistake, realise what went wrong, learn from it and move forward.
So, that was the most random blog I’ve ever written about how dog training and pole dancing are weirdly similar! If you too are a dog parent and can think of any other ways that dog training and pole dancing are oddly similar, drop them in the comments below!