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.


  1. fun post...provocative...nicely laid out...make me want to go hmmmm :-)

  2. The dog school were we are training has around 20 trainers in all. There is a lot of talk among customers "who is the best". Fun is, that the trainer that is perceived the best, is actually the one with the best person skills. One trainer is even almost "hated" because he is rude and unsocial. But I must say he is so wired with Kenzo (our dog) I think he is actually the best. So I swallow all the insults he throws at my head. And when I can see his lips curl a little (he doesn't smile) I know it is his way of giving me a compliment.

  3. @Dino. Woohoo. I like to think, so if you tell me that I made someone else think, I get happy. ^-^;;

    @Kenzo. Isn't that funny? Honestly, I know what you mean!!! The social, friendly people are the best received. In fact, you're more apt to remember what they say AND apply/try it.
    Also, I really like that you recognize that he's a good trainer, and is wired with your dog (I believe you mean that he's sort of in tune with the two of you and can be helpful with coaching advice?)

    TY for the comment, both of you. Much appreciated.

  4. You're so lucky to have a best friend that has so much in common with you!

    20/80 nature/nurture. Sounds about right, actually!

    I have to say, the subject of formative years is close to my heart as I have a multi-cultural background (grew up partly in the UK, partly in Belgium, and now living in the Netherlands). So I grew up influenced by 2 cultures (French and British) and was confronted with a third as an adult.
    I like to ponder about the effect this has had on my cultural framework, and I wonder how my kid will turn out. More British, French or Dutch?

    On the subject of dog training specifically, in my limited experience, I have noticed two major polarising issues:
    - whether you're anglo-saxon (more study-based, not purely practical experience) or not
    - whether you're college-educated (sorry, I know it's not PC) or not. College-educated dog professionals, in my experience, tend to be less trigger-happy in (over-)interpreting a dog's behaviour to suit a popular model (e.g. the pack theory).

    So, once again, a great post, and food for thought.