Following like sheep

Dog training is big business now, branches spreading out in all directions.
How to make your dog training business more profitable courses.
How to make us more profitable, training you how to deal with trainer fatigue
What about the dogs?

Tread your own path. Don’t get stuck on someone else’s track.

A while back I was watching a webinar discussion, three well known guest participants and the host. One guest started to question a term they had used. This sparked a discussion and the bouncing around of two terms. questioning which way round they should have been used in the preceding conversation. this continued on with mentions of wishing they had brought their notes.

It seems over the years that the terminology/language/the words used have become more important than the skills that can make a difference to animals lives. It’s become big online business teaching the theory to others, but what’s missing?
How about skills like observation, and understanding of the different animals in front of them.

It seems if you can talk the talk then you are worth your boots even it you never actually wear them. Just look at our own behaviour to see if there is appropriate terminology out there to describe that. Maybe that would be the most important terminology of all to remember and quote.

Buzz words are always popping up in animal training, almost every year or two someone will suddenly become aware of a new to them old method or idea, claim it as new, label it, add their name to it then use it as a selling plug point, new and revolutionary.

It’s almost becoming a race, competitive plastic marketing. Put my name on that, before someone else does. I came up with it first, they stole it.

When it comes to animal training, look at the individual, what do they need? What will help them?
Looking and seeing requires practical observation/experience, without it how do you know what your looking at?
No need to have fancy twists of new names or labels, most often what’s needed is observation, empathy, understanding and common sense. Those words/labels have been around for years, seen and understood by those with open eyes and they don’t need relabeling.

Empathy, the ability to emotionally understand what others may be feeling. See things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place. Essentially, it is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes/paws/hoofs.

Our values have a significant influence on most of the judgments we make, and have an impact on the support we offer to others. There are some values that have been held through generations, No need to consciously think about them, they become a way of life, living, caring and sharing with other living beings, two legs and four.

A new wave movement does not mean we should drop everything and follow in order to be seen to fit in. Following like sheep, safety in numbers, not wishing to stand out from the “new wave flock”.
Not wanting to go against the most popular current grain for fear of rejection. Judging everyone else around that didn’t follow, as if they have lost the plot. We have our own minds and experiences, we need to be brave enough to follow our own hearts.

There’s plenty of different ways or methods of doing things, achieving goals.
No “one way” suits us all.
We don’t all learn the exact same way either, two legs or four.

I think animal training has come a long way. Although force free, hands free positive have all proved good marketing headings, with the upsurge of “be a dog trainer courses” sending students out there with all the theory but little if any hands on “get down n hairy” I feel we now have lots of “trainers” out there “talking the talk”

Dog training is big business now, branches spreading out in all directions.
How to make your dog training business more profitable courses.
How to make us more profitable, training you how to deal with trainer fatigue courses.
What about the dogs?

To be a “positive” trainer (still seems a popular title) has now become a competitive game in it’s self. This can be seen on some of the social network pages. Someone asks an innocent question, detailing a problem/issue hoping for advice and the mob fly in, each trying to prove more positive than the answers before them, how positive is that?

I personally think this is where the “don’t touch the dog” at any cost when teaching/training first came in, we do seem to have shifted from that one. If it has all been theory and little apprenticeship practical, how can anyone possible amass observational skills to make any judgement on individual needs.

Of course we all two or four legs have various size circles of personal space needed. This can change depending on situations/circumstances, environment and history. It’s up to us to help our dogs become comfortable with closeness and handling for health care, husbandry and hopefully affection.

How comfortable with handling they become will depend on the individual and as said their history, this too will have a big impact on how accepting they are with some hand guidance/help. Whether that’s a stroke along the back to tail held out as a flag, or a lift to place/stack in the show ring.
Although I always preferred to move forward to stand rather than place, just my preference, pre training a stand with paw targets if help is needed. My reasoning being, if they need to be physically placed, where’s the weakness? What’s wrong with their conformation, balance or soundness? As a judge I’d take good note of their natural stand to show after the run up.

All dogs in our modern world need some husbandry and attention.
Would anyone leave their dog hobbling with a thorn in it’s paw, or brambles caught in their coat?

So where would I use touch, guidance, or management if I felt it would help my four paw students?
Of course we want them comfortable with touch for grooming and any treatments that may be needed through their lives.
We want to find their soft spots for affection too.

How about the dog that gets in a state waiting for the postie every morning, having a hard time unfixing from the front door between certain hours, then goes ballistic as he approaches. Well we could use a baby gate to set the dog up away from the door, further back in the house maybe with a stuffed Kong or other suitable distraction.

Caught out (we do live in the real world) when the postman’s van draws up, clip a lead on and without dramatics guide dog away until postie has left, so they don’t feel they are responsible for the postie leaving? (Seeing them off )

Does seem the norm now to sell a course, a training package of often unrealistic expectations. “Teach go to mat” “but he’s like a dog obsessed and the mornings are hectic, I need to get the kids ready for school”. Using management in situations like this can improve or even save a relationship.

To take a popular freestyle move the roll over, a move that is so easy and natural for some but not all. (ok this is a fun/play style move, not life skills, but it demonstrates)

I don’t have a dog at the moment that this move would suit, conformation depth of chest to rise of loin, and another short neck, well its just not a move I would consider for them.
Yes they roll over in life when they set themselves up naturally, got an itch or just dragged the clean washing out of the basket to roll on, and fox poo in the woods.

However looking back at how I taught one dog of mine to roll over on cue for freestyle.
She loved this move, and once learned would throw it in there any excuse with a big grin on her face.

We started with training a flat, I had no issues with stroking, if it helps the dog relax into and understand the position, why shouldn’t they have that extra information?
Then building the roll action and muscle information and memory, luring nose towards tail and over body, muscles pushing in the right direction.

At the point of paws to sky, could go either way, depending on dog (she was chunky) I saw no harm in an arm supporting the “from the floor” side to help it happen, this and of course marking helped her understand the whole move in the early days.

Once understood, I then had to teach “roll over to flat” as she loved this roll over move, I had to make sure she didn’t turn her insides out or flip her spine around with her enthusiasm.

Observation tells us of the possible areas that may cause injury to one dog, unrealistic expectations put on certain conformation, but pretty natural and a doddle to another.
(So the whole class is learning to roll over today should never be on the cards)

Observation gives us so much information, real life not slides on a screen.
If there has been no, or little observation of conformational differences, of coat indications of health or lack of, is body language and the emotional state of the dogs going to get a look in?

Just theory is not good enough, trainers need to be able to observe and SEE, assess and then adjust the training to suit the dog in front of them. If that doesn’t happen and their training other people, to train other people? Chinese whispers? Unrealistic expectations?

I cannot see who benefits by watch any learner struggle or become confused or frustrated with a process. That goes for two legs or four.

I think “hands free” also got linked up to “choice” and that has lead to many arguments that have turned touch, guidance and management into dirty words.
I’d rather be guided than left to drown or get pushed over the edge, that doesn’t mean I want someone to take over and do things for me, that’s quite different.

Here I can sleep, feeling safe, comfy and secure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s