Rover Achiever | Learning and being humbled all in the same breath
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Learning and being humbled all in the same breath

Learning and being humbled all in the same breath

I was telling another trainer the other day that I believe all professional dog trainers stumble through a series of phases in their training career ranging from highly confident inexperienced trainer (they have no idea how little they know), to highly experienced trainer that’s not very confident (they realize they have a lot to learn), and then reaching the category of experienced trainer, moderately confident, that gets humbled daily by challenging dogs. So what is this about? After I took my first 3 month dog training course – I adopted the ‘we can train any dog’ slogan to sell my business. That’s now changed to “I can probably train your dog if you practice and do enough sessions” – not the best sales pitch but I’ve never been very business minded. This theory stems from the philosophy the more you know, the more your realize the less you know. When you open your mind to the science of animal learning you can get lost in the complexity. I had a few aha moments this week when I listened to the Behaviour chains online telecourse with Kathy Sdao offered by the Animal Behavior Associates and realized that I had a few bad behaviour chains working against me in dogs I walk and my own dogs . Then I ordered an ebook on targeting and realized damn! I shouldn’t have thrown out my reebok step – it would of made a great training platform. I signed up for another tele-course with Kathy Sdao on Cueing because why not, I love her. So now that I’ve been training for 8 years and spent more money books and education than I’ve probably made, I think I’m in that experience trainer, mildly confident and humbled category which means I’m never again going to say, “we can train any dog!” Just don’t tell my clients.

2 Comments
  • Andre
    Posted at 07:07h, 25 February Reply

    The model you describe is the Four Stages of Competence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence

    We are stage 4 in that for dogs that fall within the big chunk of the bell curve (95%?) I could do it while intoxicated. However… the dogs that fall out of the bell curve are the ones that push us back to stage 2 or 3. I love getting those dogs…

    • Julie
      Posted at 00:52h, 26 February Reply

      I love that there’s a name for these stages. My own dogs keep me at stage 2 and 3 everyday 🙂

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