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.

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

Friday, October 8

The Label Behavior (Part 1)


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?

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 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?

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:
Don't interrupt.

Just listen.