Monday, January 12, 2015


After giving a dog-demo tonight about hand targeting, and using it as a tool to help your dog's focus when out for a walk I was asked, "Why?". 

Hmm. "Why we use it?", I asked. And then re-explained that it's only one, optional tool in the toolbox of dog training, to help benefit your dog's loose leash walking ability by adding focus. 

"But aren't multiple commands confusing for my dog?". At this point, I would have loved to reply that it's not as confusing for the dog as it seems to be for you, but then I'd have no clients. I reviewed the tasks at hand instead, which caused more questions. So I continued to explain, explained some more, demonstrated again, encouraged, praised and asked for understanding from this client, and I think she "got it" (she said she did and, more importantly looked like she did). 

My client isn't a bad person, and not even a bad dog owner. But for trainers, a point of frustration comes from lack of lay-person understanding of what seems to be self evident and clear communication. My dog trainer peeps know what I'm talking about. The fact is, at the end of the day and my opinion aside, the conversation I had with my client reminded me that not all people will understand your "language". Not all people will be as passionate about things as you are. The "big picture" here, for me, is when you're considered the "expert" on something and someone comes to you for help, you need to find a way to change your language until they understand. I did just that, and hopefully with a little style and grace to boot.

So, the next time someone asks you "Why?". Take a breath, take a moment, and teach the moment - whatever it is. We can easily get caught up in the cynicism of life and perhaps think people are being difficult. But what if they weren't? What impression will you leave your student with? And more importantly, what are you teaching today?

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