Friday, December 31

Embarrassment in the New Year

I'm doing it. The year in review.

Enter a man named Leo, who - for the longest time - was known to me only as @Kenzo_HW. (And I couldn't spell Hovawart right. Sue me. Hovowart. Hovawart. It's...mostly kinda sorta somewhat close...)


Anyway, since ringing in the new year is all about honest---- Okay, honestly, I think I'm making the honesty part up, BUT since I've always wanted to tell someone this...
....
...Okay, here goes....
....I don't know if I can write it. 
Deep breath.
Deep breath #2.
Deep breath #3.
And it's coming out.

I uh
thought.
Leo.
Was.
Ithoughthewasagirl.

Well, you know... There was this tweet about making sure dad didn't forget the leash, and I thought, Oh, well she must be a teenage girl.

I am so sorry.
I am SOOOO so sorry.

Now, hold please while I find a table to hide under in case Leo feels like throwing things.



*Ahem* 
Moving along. 


I know. You're waiting for me to tell you something embarrassing about me in regards to Dino.
Well, there was this one time when I tried to go to his website and I typed Dogs and Dogs dot com.... And couldn't figure out WHY IT WOULDN'T WORK! 
It took twenty - count them 2   0   - minutes to figure out that it was his last name, Dogan, and then the word Dogs, and then dot com.
No, I don't want to talk about it, if you please.
It will only upset me.

Also, as he has that awful syndrome we call a pe-- *cough* Let me keep this PG. Since Dino is male, I just wasn't sure we'd get along. I'd gotten a lot of obnoxious boy followers saying the damndest things, and had taken to blocking them all.
Why not Dino?
Well, kids. 
I checked out his website.
And thought.
Well, this guy is interesting, intelligent and ...
I waited for the other shoe to drop.
But no.
No flirting.
So, with a sigh of relief, I'm glad to say I <3 DINO! because although he is quite definitely male and I can't change that, he's also pretty damned cool.
I mean it.
(Anyone else notice they're using the wrong form of "your" in this picture? Should be you're, as in YOU ARE, not as in "belongs to you.")

Of course, I can't forget Jana Rade, @Dawgblogger, who runs Dawg Business - a site dedicated to doggie health and a facebook group called Dog Health Issues.
Embarrassing stuff about us?
Well, sometimes I tell her embarrassing stuff, but for the most part, Jana's a rock.
Everything could be headed to hell in a handcart - in a hurry - for her, and she's still got time to listen to your doggy problems, give advice, and direct you to the right website to get you informed.
All while she's trying to sort out her own problems, much harder than everyone else's.
She takes it all in stride.
I am proud to know this woman.
Oh! 
By the way, Please help Jasmine, Jana's dog - she's in trouble, and she could use your help. So, since she's nice to all of us and helps us out all the time, don't forget to help her out, too!


Well, something slightly embarrassing (on my behalf) was back when I thought Leo was a girl (what? stop looking at me like that! it was an honest mistake...) and reading in on a conversation he was having with Jana.
I felt a twinge of jealousy that my new friend was talking to someone of obviously higher twitter and blogging rank than myself, and so it took me a moment to figure out that
1.) I could easily join in on the conversation
2.) I could follow her on twitter
and 
3.) I could be friends with her too.

Whoever said I'm not a ninny is a liar.


But that's all I've got for now.
The three people, who - sadly - are all online friends (what? don't look at me like that. i'm not that big of a loser. no, really. i'm....oh, forget it) but they're all seriously awesome people.



Monday, December 27

Snowed In

First thing in the morning, and I don't know what the heck to do...
Sure, I'm supposed to write this awesome post with the help of a friend who would be much more suited to pulling it off than I would, but I'm just not feeling it.

I would succeed in offending EVERYONE.
Which...believe it or not... isn't the point. 
...But is probably the only point I'll manage to pull off.

I want the world to change the way it looks at stuff. 
It sounds nice. 
Really, it does.

And so does world peace, financial stability, and a flat screen tv. 
Do I have any of those things?
No.
Do I see any of those things in my future?
No.

And who am I to run around preaching change when I am the epitome of OCD, big S on the personality test that needs a hand to hold and a schedule to attend to?
Yeah, I'm the girl who doesn't know what to do when she has a spare moment. 
In fact, I mostly just zone out, confused, because I can't fathom not having to work.

Yet I want you guys to change something intrinsic to yourself.

What am I? 
Other than a freaking nut job....

I think the first step in having a blog or trying to reach out to the world is to know what you want, and to know what you want to do with it, to know what message you are trying to send. 

Yeah. I have a small idea.
Unfortunately, it keeps changing. 

I'll write my post anyway. It's about Social Media in the dog training world. It's about change. It's about where we can go if we achieve niche peace, stability, and fuck...let's throw in the flat screen TV.

Friday, November 26

On Strike.

Some days, I really hate dog blogs. So, Koda and I are officially on dog blogging strike. For at least one month. Next real article to be due on or around or after Christmas. Or never. We'll see.



As a dog trainer who loves reading about dogs, I've always found it absolutely irritating to read about "How To Train this..." or "Why you should (or should not) do this..." 

Thank you kindly, but if I wanted to know how to train something, I'd simply ask my own trainer/behaviorist. That is, of course, assuming that you've actually come up with something I don't know and really wowed me with it. If he couldn't answer, I'd research and ask my twitter friends (who, by the way, have some amazing dog blogs, most of which don't concentrate on telling me what to do.) What I wouldn't do is look up dog blogs to see if someone has written something about it.

What do you want from a dog blog?

I want stories.



And I want pictures.



I want the author to capture and captivate my mind, steal my heart, and make me laugh.

Do you have any idea how many publishers groan at the mere thought of... not ANOTHER dog training book!

So, I'm begging the readers, the authors, the bloggers.

Please don't turn our niche into another NOT ANOTHER DOG BLOG! world. We have too much to offer, too wide a range of topics, to weigh ourselves down with boring things, with boring information that anyone can find anywhere, or in any book. 

Color it. Walk me through the story of how you trained something if you wanna talk about how to do it. Tell me how silly your dog looked or that he started to chase his tail in the middle of the training session because he suddenly realized that it looked like someone stuck the tip of it into a bucket of white paint.




Friday, November 19

Quadratic Confusion... and Morning Coffee


Mass confusion usually follows anytime I am permitted to make up the questions to test the mettle of our class on their knowledge of operant conditioning. 

I will admit, I'm seriously obnoxious. I come up with statements that intentionally force our students to think critically, using the method that my brother and I made up to analyze and figure out in which of the four quadrants the answer lies. 

Here's my most annoying example to date: 


A very cute dog walks up to his owner and paws her in the leg. The owner smiles and tells her dog to sit, a treat hidden in her palm. When the dog puts his butt on the floor, the owner smiles wider and gives the dog the treat. The dog never sits again.

WHAT?! usually follows this statement. 
Surely I screwed that up, saying that a dog that is given a treat for sitting would never sit again. That isn't possible; it's not even probable! 

Don't worry; I'm just being a jerk. I'll admit it.

I also threw in a lot of meaningless babble, such as "very cute dog," the pawing of the owner's leg, the smiling, the fact that the dog was given a treat, etc. 

Well, how do you figure out where this falls on the grid? Let's analyze and check it out!
(*Note that nowhere do I say "desired" or "undesired" behavior; I simply note that a behavior is performed. Whether or not we like it has little to do with the science.)



Forgetting anything about our preconceptions about what dogs like or should do in accordance to blahblahblah, let's take the sciency way!

(A very cute dog walks up to his owner and paws her in the leg. The owner smiles and tells her dog to sit, a treat hidden in her palm. When the dog puts his butt on the floor, the owner smiles wider and gives the dog the treat. The dog never sits again.)

1.) Identify the behavior
In this case, the behavior is sitting. 

2.) Identify the consequence.
The dog is given a treat.

3.) What happened to the behavior as a result of the consequence?
The behavior decreased.

So, something was applied that made a behavior decrease. So, if you go back up and check out the section of the grid where behaviors are decreased and then check out in which of those two something is applied, you should come up with Positive Punishment or P+.



If you're anything like the people who take my class, you're probably all but ready to jump through the computer and argue with me that a treat cannot be a form of positive punishment. 
(Funny note: That's uncritical anthropomorphism you're using; because you believe that giving a dog a treat is positive, therefore the dog must think that getting a treat is positive. This is not so, and this kind of thought process will bite you in the butt... If a dog doesn't get there first!)

So, with that note: 
Can you critically and scientifically analyze these statements and tell me which of the four quadrants they fall under?
1.) A dog barks while running agility. His handler takes him off the field and plays fetch. The dog learns not to bark on the agility field.
2.) A dog barks while running agility. The owner takes him off the field and puts him in a crate. The dog learns to bark on the agility field.
3.) A dog steps out of heel position and is collar corrected. The dog learns not to step out of heel position.
4.) The leg bands on a front pull harness loosen when a dog chooses to walk closer to his handler.


Wednesday, November 10

The Obnoxiously Objective Interpretation

I am a trouble maker.
And so is my dog.
There, I said it, admitted it, and got it out of my system. Sort of.

I have a bit of a problem, and it goes like this: Most people aren't programmed to think the way I do. (Curious as to what I mean when I say programming? Click HERE! to find out!)
Because of that, I have a hard time communicating with other people.

See this picture? What do you see when you look at it?
Most people would see something along the lines of a submissively postured border collie, right?
I - and obnoxiously so - refuse to make any conclusion about what the dog is doing or trying to communicate.  
As a funny example, one day when I was in high school and deigned to grace the place with my presence, I was happy to find out that I'd come on a day when we were doing a rather interesting experiment in physics class. 
Physics happened to be the only class I liked, never mind the fact that I slept through it, never did my homework, and doodled on my tests.
There was a visiting professor who took half of the first class to tell us that we were entirely too stupid to make it in college physics. 

He talked about how we wouldn't know objectivity if it bit us in the ass and then proceeded to have us do an experiment that would prove just that. 
We were sent into the lab room with orders to observe an individual and report back with scientific observations. 

My lab partner and I went first. He came back and noted that the guy in the room was worried and on a time budget.
The professor nodded approvingly and I wanted to hide under a desk. What my lab partner had said didn't even come close to my observations and I no longer wanted to answer.
Nervously, I shuffled my feet and refused to look up when the professor cleared his throat - a noise most likely aimed at me and my lack of answer.
He asked me three times to state my conclusions and finally, in a very meek voice, I said, "I am sorry; I am not prepared to make any conclusions based on the data I've collected."

His eyes widened for a moment, as though astonished, and then he furrowed his brows thoughtfully. After a momentary pause, he said, "All right, then; tell me about the data you've collected."
Terrified and thinking that I must have messed the entire experiment up and also thinking that he must be right and I was stupid, I nervously told him of my observations. I'd collected data about the subject of the experiment. A LOT of data.
I took almost twenty minutes to explain something that happened in less than five.
The professor laughed and sent us back to our desks with orders for me to see him after class.

He grilled me for fifteen minutes about why I'd chosen to report back the way I had. Confused - and nearly in tears - I told him that that was simply the way I'd been taught to think and that it made no sense to assume I knew what was going on in another person's head. What may have appeared as nervousness to me could have very well turned out to be excitement, too much caffeine, or the side-effect of long term use of anti-psychotics. Yes, I did say that. 
Yes, you are more than welcome to roll your eyes.

So, with that: 
Dear Doggy Dog World,
I have no idea about what is going on in another person's head, let alone a dog's.
I can't claim to know the why of any individual dog's behavior, although I can speculate based on the research of my peers and based on the research of those who are much smarter than I am.

PS: Please forgive my annoying objectivity when it comes to talking about or explaining any dog-related behavior. I am aware of the fact that I tend to offend people by not giving credit where credit is due to those in our field who are actively doing research, writing up studies, and making conclusions about those studies. I just hate conclusions; it's a personal problem.

Saturday, November 6

The Work Always Pays Off

It's been a long day.
Of awesome doggy-dog-ness.


Today was agility trail day.


A day of course maps, bitter cold, weird negotiations with four legged companions, and - best of all - fun.

For now, check out the adventurous nervous dog taking a leap at life.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that Kittie took three years to get to a point where she could not only perform with other people (she's afraid of people) and dogs, but to actually let go of the fact that they were there and just have some fun? 

Yeah. 

Check her out.

This is fun. 

All the way.
(You may want to turn down the volume.... a lot)


And yes, I did literally jump for joy at the end.
I know I got first place and everything, but I could have shaved off at least a second or two if I'd set her up to slice some of those jumps -_-;; Stupid handler.
Yay for LVL 1 CPE 
Ahem.
KITTIE GOT FIRSTEST PLACE!!!!!!

And I am so proud of her. ^-^;;


Oh! Since I have the privilege of running alongside one of the best agility coaches/handlers in the nation (<--I gave him that title, but if you worked with him, you'd give it to him too) here's his video.
PS: I  TOLD YOU NOT TO FRONT CROSS THERE.
I almost want to add nananananana TOLD YOU SO!
But I'll be mature about this.
*cough*

Friday, November 5

The Label Behavior (Part 2)

The Anthropomorphic Standpoint.
Get ready to - Why is that bunny holding a  ... what is that?!

Ever heard of a guy named Gordon Burghardt
Me neither.
But I have heard of the concept of anthropomorphism, as illustrated by the oh-so-adorable bunny above.

All of my experience, readings, and conversations with professionals have led me to one conclusion: Under no circumstances is anthropomorphism appropriate when dealing with dog behavior.

In fact, too many of the animal professionals I know distance themselves from the possible emotional standpoint of the dog to such a degree that they are sometimes accused of thinking of dogs as robots.

Uhm. Anyone notice that the adorable robot puppy is uh... missing a limb...?

Anyway, I recently revisited a study on Critical and Non Critical Anthropomorphism, and I'm reconsidering my standpoint on anthropomorphism never being helpful and never being appropriate.

Ever heard of these two terms?

Non Critical Anthropomorphism is the sort that you always hear. "My dog ate my shoes because he was mad that I left him in his crate for five minutes longer than I should have last Tuesday." (Yes, a client honestly said this to me once. I just blinked, unsure that I'd heard her correctly.)

Non Critical is also another way of saying "it's not scientific enough for us smart people, so it doesn't really matter."

...which bring us to our next term

Critical Anthropomorphism. 
Now, since non critical is not sceincey enough for us nerdy people, does that make critical just the opposite?
To a certain extent, why yes it does!
....Even though it still seems to me that putting "anthropomorphism" with critical - meaning it is scientific and carefully evaluated - just seems oxymoronic.

In this type of anthropomorphism, you put yourself in the dog's shoes - er, paws - and try to deduce, induce, reduce (whatever kind of logic you use) the why of what he's doing. 

If you yell at a dog and he slinks away, non critical anthropomorphism might suggest that he feels guilty.
This is applying what YOU might feel if someone yelled at you, and doesn't take into account that dogs are a separate species that see the world differently than we do.
Critical Anthropomorphism would turn the equation upside down and rethink the whole situation. What would YOU do if you were a social animal who had just been threatened or confronted by a member of your social group? Remember, your programming dictates that you are much less interested in a fight than you are in maintaining the peace, because fights lead to injury lead to death, and you're all about survival.
(Sorry. Had to add this one.)

So, what do you do when another member of your group threatens you?
You try to placate that member. In doggie speak, you lower yourself and show that you are not returning the threat.

So, what do you think?

Is all anthropomorphism absolutely useless? 

And what do you think about Gordon Burghardt's Critical and Non Critical Anthropomorphism?

Wednesday, November 3

Wit's End

Let's hope we - the vet, the dog, and me - finally get some answers today.

I have left the dog outside for the past ten to fifteen minutes.

Why?

Because OUTSIDE, she cannot pee INSIDE.


Beware of the Dog Blogger

Beware of Bloggers. Especially ones that talk about dog behavior.
And welcome to the (somewhat) Revised Edition.
Disclaimer!  I am not referring to Jana (@DawgBlogger on twitter) when I say "Beware of the Dog Blogger."
 Why? Because though I am talking about dog people who blog, she is more than exempt from what we'll talk about below. Check out DawgBusiness. It's a site about dog health, training, and more.
Unfortunately for me, I can't change how the world thinks about dogs, how the world thinks about dog-related information, or how the world thinks about information in general. (Yet again, 5 points to you if you caught the OCD compulsion.)

Because of this, I have a fairly simple question for you, dear reader:
Are you a skeptic?
If not, you may consider becoming one.

Think that's one heck of a strange statement?
Consider this: Just because an author I respect makes a conclusion that she finds to be factual doesn't mean that I accept it as such. I'm always thinking
  • are there any alternative explanations? And if so, does the author state them - or at least state that there are, in fact, alternatives?
  • is the author using the Principle of Parsimony? (Meaning is she using the simplest explanation available and not over-complicating things with something like anthropomorphism?)
  • does she site sources from her colleagues or other reputable sources?
If the answer to any of those questions is "No," I may consider filing the presented information under, "It's a little fishy..."
Just as an example, a few dog trainers, behaviorists, and published - and widely popular - authors I know use a term called calming or cut-off signals and go on to say that these are part of a dog's agonistic language. 
Here's the trick: If we go by the scientific definition of communication, the exchange has to involve two parties: one party sending the message and another to receive it.
Yawning, according to these authors, would be classified as a cut-off signal - a way of telling another dog, "I am not a threat." However, if your dog - nervous and uncomfortable - yawns when she is alone can it honestly be classified as a communication? Remember, cut-off signals are communications that tell another being that the dog sending the message is not a threat.

I must make a note that in this article, I'm making light of a well-researched hypothesis that has a lot more merit than I am giving credit to. Turid Rugaas basically led the frontier in this research. By the way, check her out. Make a decision for yourself.
[And thank Hilary of FangShuiCanines for pointing out that I didn't give enough credit to the research behind the subject of calming signals.]

Just a thought.
...And that thought doesn't mean that they're wrong or that I'm wrong - it simply means that there's too much that we don't know.

So don't fall victim to that ever-annoying nominal fallacy - just because you name it doesn't mean you've explained it, and it certainly doesn't mean that you're right.

We do this all the time with labels.
Apply a label to a situation and you've got it covered - the whole mess is explained, we can all take a deep breath and go home knowing that...
...Absolutely nothing has been accomplished.

So, with that, beware of dog bloggers and dog professionals who claim to have the answers.
When it comes to the doggy-dog world, there's more that we don't know than that we do know.

And it's okay to say these next few words, 
"I DON'T KNOW."
Do you know why some dogs urine mark?
Do you know why some dogs walk in circles before lying down?

If you answered "Why YES, in fact, I do!" I would beg that you re-read this blog and reconsider your answer. Most of the "answers" to the above-mentioned questions are based on misinformation.
And, on top of that, no matter what information is out there, doesn't it always depend on the individual dog?

So, in conclusion:
  • Take it with a grain of salt. No one will blame you.
  • We know less about dogs than we give ourselves credit for knowing.
  • Not knowing all of the answers is okay
And, most importantly,
  • Don't put too much faith in the behavioral information you read online - or in books.

Wednesday, October 27

The Name Game...And Free Books!

You Get to Name Our New Website and Win a Set of Dog training Books

Let’s face it. Dog owners must be creative in order to help their canines live better, longer, more fun-filled lives. It's through this creativity that we learn that anything we want, we can make ours - for the love of canine, of course.

So I’m asking you to name our newest collective dog blog.
Let me tell you little bit about it:
14 of the best dog bloggers are coming together to deliver daily articles ranging from dog training to medical advice and all points in between. Nothing's too big or too small for these guys - they have a diversity and creativity that pushes what we've defined as the boundaries in the dog world. 
Oh, and did I mention the best part?

The site will NOT be ad supported and the focus is entirely on the reader. 

But…we have a problem. We need a name for it and that’s where you come in.

The only requirement is that the name you come up with is amazing and that the domain name for it is available. Other than that, let your imagination run wild. 

What do you get?

The winning entry will receive a set of 3 dog training books sent to you directly from Dino Dogan’s  personal library.
We will also do something nice for runners-up…not sure what yet, but we’ll make it good. ^_-;;
So…show us how creative you can really be and name our new collective dog blog now.

Saturday, October 16

Don't Ask; Don't Tell

...And DO NOT even think about violating your clients' privacy.



Who here understands the difference between confidentiality and permission to use?


Just a thought.
So many dog trainers use their clients' stories without a second thought, whether in their blogs or talking to another dog trainer or dog professional.

I have a problem with this. I'll raise my hand up and admit it.

Even though I share my clients' stories all the time - with all sorts of people. I obtain what we'll call "permission to use" which means, in short, that we may use your story as an educational aid - sans names, of course. It's also included in the liability waiver that everyone signs.
However, if I ever intend to use any information outside of the classroom, I ask.



Please operate at a standard above your clients. As a professional, you are obligated to act as a professional.
I don't think most people realize this.
Think about it for a few moments.
When you are dealing with a client, you have a set of standards by which you must operate. You should be dressed professionally and act professionally....

.....even if they tell you that they use a shock collar (turned all the way up ) to punish their dog when its being "annoying" 

it is your job to keep whatever you're feeling off your face.
Compartmentalize.

and don't tweet their business to the whole nation.


Friday, October 8

The Label Behavior (Part 1)

I AM A DOG TRAINER.



That is a label, and is therefore, virtually useless.

Do you know the difference between a label and a behavior?
Most people think they do. I mean, they really think they're on to something. They even answer the "questions" correctly when asked, "Is _____ a label or is _____ a behavior?" 
(Fun Fact: That I could not write "Is _____a label or a behavior?" is an OCD behavior.)

So, if everyone is giving the correct answers, what's my problem? If they answer correctly, surely they know the difference, right?
 
WRONG.



Why?
In practice, most people assume. Yeah, I do mean as in "make an ass out of you and out of me" (there I go with the OCD again. 5 points if you caught what the compulsion was.)



A person can say that he knows scratching his nose is a behavior and "being mean" is a label, but in practice you'll oftentimes find that same person applying labels to everything in a behavioral context. 

Okay, right. And how, exactly, does this relate to dog training?

These are labels:
  • fearful
  • aggressive
  • stubborn
  • upset 
  • submissive
 
I don't know of a dog trainer who doesn't use them, even though most of us are well aware that labels do much more harm than help.

I once had a client whose yorkie was accused of being aggressive. 



So, I got to use my favorite phrase: "Why don't you walk me through exactly what happened?"
The yorkie was barking savagely at the mailman.
What did she mean by "savagely?"
Well, it was a loud bark - different from her normal yap. She got onto the couch everyday at the same time, paced back and forth on the window ledge, and BAAAAAAAAAAAAAARKED when she saw the mailman.

Turned out.
...........She was over-enthusiastically happy to see the mailman. Her tail wagged, her body was loose and wiggly, and she vocalized.
Apparently, he'd given her goodies once. 
She wanted some more.
Every time she saw him! 


Never mind the fact that her family thought she was a vicious monster and was considering putting her down.
You'd be surprised how many of those "cases" we come across.
(Note: These people are not idiots. We knows dogs and we know their body language. If the people who came to us knew everything, we wouldn't have a job. So, don't judge - that couple has gone miles, and now understands a heck of a lot more about their yorkie, and boy are they glad she's still with them!)


It's not just that.
What gets me is that people use labels as a "diagnosis." End-all, cure-all.
Your dog is "fearful." 
She's just "excited."

I don't tell people their dogs are fearful or excited. I might say something like, "It appears to me that Moxie keeps putting her tail between her legs and lowering herself when your husband walks by. Thoughts?"
That sounds like submissive or fearful behavior doesn't it?
Did you catch the trick? (10 points for that one!)

.....Time's UP!
Fearful and submissive are not behaviors.
Tail tucking and body lowering are.

Think about it.

And I'll continue this later.

Sunday, October 3

Motivation like a Star Drive...

"You are an individual - just like everyone else."

Honestly, I can't figure out if it's just me or if the above statement is oxymoronic.


Well, if you put on a different color of the same sweater.....

This picture reminds me of my best friend and me.

We always end up with the same, well, everything...even if we're not together when we get it. Lucky for us, it's usually...in....a different color.

Does that count?

Actually, if nothing else, it should tell you quite a bit about our programming. It should tell you that we were friends before the age of 18 - probably went to the same school at some point - and that we spent a lot of time together. It should also tell you that we each had a huge impact on how the other thinks, what the other values, and even what the other thinks is good taste in clothes. ;]

Food for thought...

Whatever. Let's get to the (soft) science:

We'll say that about 20% of who you are comes hardwired.
The other 80%, well, that's the programmed bit, which is complete at around the age of 18.

Graduate High School and you've become exactly who you will be for your whole life.

Scary thought?

I think so.

After that, it's significant events that change you.

Think of it this way: According to Moriss Massey (and everything stated as fact so far has been according to him) your programming goes as follows.

  • 0-7 years. You look around; you identify stuff.
  • 8-13 years. You act like the people you like - IE: Modeling.
  • 14-20 years. You seek people who think like you do, basically eliminating the chance for a diverse spectrum of thinking.
 And that's your programming; if you're over the age of 20 (or 18 on average) you are who you are, and are who you will be until the day you die.

What impacts us the most?
What makes us who we are?
Up until age 15, but paying special attention to events before the age of 5, what significant things shape who we become?
(Funny Extra: When I was asked this, I laughed. I cracked my head at the age of 5 and remember nothing before then.)
  • family - even extended
  • politics - especially the views of those close to us
  • social expectations
  • polarizing issues
  • education
  • media
  • and the list goes on....and on.....
Do you share similar views with the people you grew up with? With the people you are currently friends with?
You should; if you don't, you did something wrong. Rewind and fix it before the paradigm destroys the world.

Unless you're a nut job like me, if you train using positive reinforcement, you probably don't have a lot of friends who think jerking their dog around is the way to go. Because of your programming, you have a vastly different set of values and beliefs - which is something that we all need to understand. The clients who walk through your door may agree with your training, but not with your values or beliefs. Or they may agree with your beliefs but not your training.

I guess that would be Client Handling 101, a class that I am not equipped to teach. That may be due to the fact that either I have a broad spectrum of values, have no values, or am really good at blending. In any case, it doesn't transfer.

I actually refer out to traditional trainers. Does this make me evil?


Maybe.
But I have to recognize a losing battle when I see one. When someone comes in and refuses to be open minded about changing their training techniques (something that is, by the way, tied very closely to their core belief system) I'd rather refer them out than argue.
Also, I have good friends who are traditional because we refer out to each other, and don't judge. That's a hard thing to avoid, that judging.

The hardest thing for anyone to do is "walk in another person's shoes."
But it's also the smartest thing you will ever do as a dog trainer.


What's the best advice I've ever received about being a dog trainer?
Look at the person who is walking through the door and figure this out: What drove them to walk through your door?
It's too easy to ostracize a client by clouding what we say with personal bias. You don't know if what you're about to say will offend them, hurt them, or make them feel stupid.
So find out why they're there. Identify their personality type. Throw in some blending to make it easy to relate to you, open up to you, and listen to what you have to say.
But most importantly:
Listen.
Don't interrupt.


Just listen.