It’s seductive, you know? The slick photos or videos that show something that looks great, and better still, looks so danged easy to do. You feel inspired or even past that, suspect that unknown to anyone around you, a spectacular talent lurks untapped inside you. All you need is that recipe, and voila! You will produce something amazing. Martha et al knows this all too well.
The recipe itself completes your delusion. After all, how hard can it be to mix butter, flour, salt and a bit of ice water? But as anyone who has tried to make a pie crust from scratch knows, simple rarely means easily mastered. And it’s as true in dog training as it is in cooking.
There’s a real longing for a recipe that tell you how to develop a wondrous relationship with your dog. So deep does this longing run that I’ve been the recipient of some anger shot my way when I refused to provide recipes, when I insisted that those serious about what is possible between dog and human learn to understand more than just one step following another.
To be sure, at some basic starting point, you have to start with a recipe (even if it is a bad one). I don’t know anyone who could look at the final product – a baked pie crust, and from that deduct what they should do to start. It looks nothing like the original ingredients! At some point, you have to know – at the very minimum – the ingredients involved. Then, by trial & error (much error! many trials!) you could eventually figure out what proportions were necessary. A recipe helps us avoid so many trials, so many errors.
But even with a complete recipe and an understanding of how flour, shortening, salt and water interact under different conditions, you must practice, practice, practice while always comparing the results with your desired outcome. This constant assessment of what happened vs. what you hoped for is what allows you to become so skilled that you no longer need a recipe.
And this is true of every endeavor I know of, from making a pie crust to painting a picture or teaching a class or training an animal or driving a car or talking with someone.