Confessions of a Terrible Student
Dianna L. Santos
In our latest blog post, Trials and Tribulations of a Terrible Student, we discuss just how challenging it is to be a dog handler. Having to LEARN a skill yourself and then TEACH your dog a skill at the very same time is HARD!
We build off of this topic in this episode by sharing the experiences of a terrible student and how her mental baggage derailed her more often than not. But it not all doom and gloom. We also offer some creative ways people can avoid these same pitfalls and better partner with their trainer and instructor.
These types of open and honest discussions are important for our community to have. We hope you find this episode helpful.
Podcast Episode Transcript
Welcome to the All About Scent Work podcast. In this podcast, we talk about all things Scent Work, that may include training tips, the behind scenes look at what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this episode, I want to do a little bit of a confessional. Talking about what it's like to be a nervous student. Before I start diving into the episode itself, let me give you a really quick introduction on myself. My name is Dianna Santos, I'm the Owner and Lead instructor for Scent Work University, Dog Sport University and Pet Dog U. These are online dog training platforms. They're designed to provide high quality dog training instruction to as many people as possible. And we're very fortunate to have a client basis worldwide.
At Scent Work University, we provide online courses, seminars, webinars, and eBooks that are all designed to help you achieve your separate training goals. Whether or not you're just getting started in Scent Work, you're looking to develop more advanced skills, if you're interested in trialing, or if you just want to play the game for fun with your dog. We have a perfect training solution for you. Now that you know alittle bit about me, let's dive into the podcast episode itself.
So in this episode, I wanted to just have a heart to heart. Talk a little bit what it's like to be a nervous student. And yes, I'm going to be talking about myself.
So I think it's very important for all of us, whether or not we're instructors, trainers, students, handlers, spectators, people potentially interested in getting involved in Scent Work, that we have these open discussions, right? Because I don't think that these are things that only one or two of us experience. I think that there are a plethora of different topics that all of us go through at some point. And we may talk or chit chat about it with a trusted friend, but we really need to start talking about these things more openly, right? More as a community. So I'll start.
So the way this is going to work is, I'm just going to talk a little bit about my history as far as learning overall. I'm then going to talk about what I've experienced as an instructor in dealing with other students who have struggled in a learning environment. And then I'm going to go back to myself. And you can hopefully garner some kind of value from this. But I think it's important again that we all kind of take away the veneer that any of us are perfect or that any of us are immune to things that I think everyone struggles with at some point, right? I am very strongly in the camp of getting away from idolizing people and injecting a sense of, not normalcy, but I never want anyone looking up to me. It makes me very uncomfortable, I don't think that I'm worthy of being looked up to in the first place.
And I feel you're diminishing the opportunity for us to connect, right? If you're too busy being... "Oh, well, she's doing whatever that supposedly you're supposed to be looking up to". In my opinion, I think it causes a lot of problems. So in order to knock myself down a couple of pegs in case there's someone out there who thinks... "Oh my God, she's awesome!" I'm not. So let's talk about why I'm not.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Before I ever started getting involved in formal dog training, my very first career and passion and love was actually horses. And I started formally doing stuff with horses, as in taking lessons and working and everything else when I was around... I think it was 10 something around that time. I'm terrible at timelines so give or take a year. But somewhere along that line. I had been interested in horses the entirety of my life leading up to that point.
But I actually started formally going to a barn and being involved around that time. Because this was such a big deal for me to actually be able to take lessons, and to work around a barn, I knew in my little ten-year-old brain that this was something my family was not really able to afford. They were stretching to make this work, right? It was not a financially easy thing for them to do. And it put a lot of pressure on me, not that they were putting any pressure on me, it was pressure I put on myself. I couldn't blow this, right? Finally I get to be around these majestic animals I had loved the entirety of my life. And I didn't want to ruin that opportunity. So I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything as well as I could. Now, we have to also take into account that I am extraordinarily uncoordinated.
I also have a musculoskeletal nervous system issues. There's multiple of them. But the most common thing that people may know about is fibromyalgia, which basically is like you're in pain all the time, basically. But you have trigger points in your body. And when those trigger points go off, there's not a whole lot that you can do. And they can cause spasms and all kinds of really fun stuff. The point being is that, I could be walking along and all of a sudden, my leg is twitching or my arm is twitching. And it's like... "Okay, whatever". I don't realize that's happening. This is problematic when you're riding a horse. You're going along and all of a sudden like... "What are you doing?!" And my leg is flapping around. I was like... "Oh. Well, I don't know. My leg decided to have a little party all the time."
Why does any of this matter? Well, you take into account that this little 10 year old body, that doesn't function well at all even at 10, I'm trying to desperately do well. And I don't want disappoint anyone.
This is all stuff I put on myself. No one had told me that I was going to be disappointing them. No one told me that I needed to be perfect. I just assumed, and my little 10 year old brain, that this is what I needed to do. Otherwise, my parents are wasting all this money, and they're wasting all this time and I'm wasting the instructor's time, I'm wasting the time of my fellow students, oh My God! It's terrible. Again, no one is putting this on me. This is all self-imposed. So when I would be doing my lessons, typically there was anywhere between 6 to 12 horses in the same exact lesson, right? Everyone's riding their own individual horse. And they would try to have people all at the same level. But with anything, you're going to have some riders that are just amazing. Some horses that are amazing, some riders that aren't that great, some horses that aren't that great. It's got to be a little bit of a mish-mash.
But regardless, I would be doing my lessons watching everyone, right? I'm doing my own thing, but I'm watching everybody and I'm listening to what the instructor is saying to everyone. So we will be going around and we're learning all this kind of stuff. And one of the most common things to anyone who knows anything about particularly English riding, is you want to keep your heels down. Because what that does it helps anchor you in the saddle. You trying to align your heel to your hip, to your shoulder, to your ear. That's the ideal line that you have. And one of the easiest ways of trying to teach you how to do that is to keep your heels down. Because if you put your toes down, it pitches you forward.
So, one of the most common things you hear in beginner lessons is, "Heels down, heels down." Whatever else. Because it's a very unnatural thing to do. The problem being is that you can absolutely have your heels too far down. It does all kinds of other things to you.
So I will be going along doing my own thing. Again, the instructor only has one set of eyeballs. So they can only see one set of people at a time. So she may be giving tips to rider B or C, and I'm over there doing my thing. She'd already given me my tip. I'm already fine. But she told someone else, "Heels down", so I make my heels go even more down. Right? And she would come back to me and here I am, I'm like a fricking mess because I'm taking in all the advice for everybody else that did not apply to me that I did not have to do, but I'm trying to overcompensate because I'm trying desperately to do well. And if It can help someone else, obviously it must help me too! This poor instructor. I am absolutely positive I drove this woman to drink.
Because no matter what she did, no matter what she said, no matter how many times she would try to remind me, she said, "Dianna, you're fine. I will tell you what you need to do, and then only do that thing." And then I would turn around and do what everyone else was doing too and it was awful. Because there would be these little glimmers of me actually kind of doing well. Nothing great, but I wasn't falling off the horse. We were actually doing okay, distinctly okay, right? And I would screw it all up because I was trying so hard and taking in all the information for everybody else... Oh, it was awful. And then I would realize that I was stressing her out and I was making her upset. So I would try even more, to do more, which only made it worse. It's just this constant battle of just awfulness.
I was involved in horses for almost 13 years, 12 years, something like that. Again, terrible with numbers. But as time went on and the older I got, and the more physically broken I became, It just became more and more arduous for me to try to continue riding. Or basically it was easier for me to do the working part instead, right? I can go clean stalls, I can walk horses, I can groom horses, I can clean tack, I can do all that stuff in my sleep. Not a problem because quite honestly, you're mucking crap, right? You're literally moving piles of horse shit from one side to... from a stall to a bucket. And you're dumping it in a pile. Anyone can do that. I'm not going to sit there like... "Well, I don't muck stalls, all that great. Really? They were like... Oh, you like to do this, and you like to do it well, fantastic. You can do the entire farm." Wonderful, to have at it. I didn't have the whole worry that i was going to disappoint someone.
Whereas whenever I rode, it seemed to highlight all the physical problems I was having. The fact that I'm not coordinated, the fact that my body likes to do things it doesn't like to do all on its own. It's like... "Oh, here my arm is flopping around. Oh great!" And the fact that no matter how hard I tried, it just didn't seem as though I was doing as well as everyone else. Again, was that reality? Who knows? In my skewed perception at the time, I was absolutely horrible. Maybe it wasn't that bad. I couldn't tell you. But over the years, I kept finding excuses to not ride anymore. Because I found the whole thing so incredibly aversive, and I was so stressed out by it. And it was such a big thing where I'll be... "Oh. Well, I don't feel good. I'm limping a little bit. Don't worry about, we wouldn't have to do the lesson today, whatever. I'll just work instead." And then also, "Well, I don't want my parents paying for this when we don't have the money. I'll just work instead."
There was always an excuse to not ride Anymore. And then we moved. So I just want to preface this by saying as well I was some glowing, amazing little rider that was... "Oh, if only she had stuck with it, she would have been on the Olympic team." Absolutely not. I was mediocre at absolute best. Nothing was lost to the world by me not riding anymore. But we moved. We moved from New York to Connecticut. And in that move, I went to obviously a new barn because we're in a new state, and they saw me ride and the woman was like... "Yeah, you have absolutely no idea what you're doing." And it was the most soul crushing thing. Because I thought that I kind of knew what to do, right? I had been riding for something like six years or something at that point. And I may not have been the prettiest rider in any way that you wanted that term.
But I kind of knew that the foundations, right? I knew generally speaking how you can go by doing this. But this person was just like... "Dianna, you're terrible. You don't know anything. We're going to have to start over from the beginning." And I could just remember sitting and it was as if someone had sucked all of my life force out of me. And now this activity that had been a passion of mine from my earliest memories, now became this tainted ugly stress bucket of awfulness that I just hated doing it.
Fast forward another six years or so, and I'm at the same exact barn, I'm now like... I think at that point they kept changing my title, assistant manager, manager or whatever it was. And another person had come in to be the overseeing manager, trainer person who was a brilliant rider, brilliant trainer, she was very talented. But there were a ton of horses on this farm that desperately needed to be trained.
They had kind of been sitting outside be like... "We're just chilling like villains." They really needed a lot of work. And they weren't bad horses at all, but they needed the time, right? They were now mature, they were ready to have riders, they were ready to get ridden and yada yada. And she's only one person. She only has so many hours in the day. She's like... "I need you to help me work some of these horses." She's like... "I'll help you, but I need you in the saddle helping me. You can do this. You have the skills to do this." And I did I think two sessions with her. And they went okay. I didn't fall off, the horse didn't die, nothing bad happened.
And she's like... "See, like this is good. And we're making progress in that. And now see the horse is learning and you're learning and this is all good and blah, blah, blah, blah." And you can see if you were to use me like as a cartoon or something, it was like a little ember. There's a little tiny flicker of... "Oh, well, maybe." And then the third session, the owner who was the same exact person who had told me years before, "You have no idea what you're doing." she was watching us do this. And all of those years of emotions of... "You're worthless, you're terrible." But just all self-talk, right? This is how I think about myself anyway. All came up to the surface and the worst part is, the horse I was supposed to work was the one that I had actually helped be born, right?
I was there while he was entering the world. So he was very special to me. And because I was such a neurotic mess, because now this woman is watching me, I know she already thinks that I'm trash, I think I'm trash, and now I'm worried that I'm going to somehow magically ruin this horse, which obviously it's not going to happen. I couldn't get in the saddle. I literally could not figure out how to mount this horse. Using a mounting block, he's not that tall, and I couldn't figure it out. We're going in circles because I'm such a mess. And I just said, "You know what? I think this is good for today." And the trainer lady is like... "Where are you going?" ..."Oh, I'm going to put him back." And she's like... "Why?!" "Oh, well, I can't get in the saddle." Oh good.
"I have so much work I have to do," which is true. At a barn, you always have work to do. There's always more to be done. So, I was there for another I think year and a half or two years, and I never rode again. The trainer lady was beyond upset with me. Now you have someone who is actually disappointed in you. Because it's making more work for her, and she just felt I was quitting. She just felt I was just giving up. Am I going to sit down with her and have this whole conversation? No. Just no worries.
I'm going to go be in the trenches, doing all the really hard labor that my body quite honestly, really shouldn't be doing anymore. You go do the fancy, the things that the accomplished people do. I'll just be behind the curtain doing the stuff that makes everything run every day. That whole situation didn't last. Went to college, yada yada fast-forward till I'm out of college, I'm at another barn, and another brilliant trainer, she allows me to ride her horses and she's like... "There are some glimmers here. You're not as incompetent as you think." I'm like..."Okay, well that's news to me. You have to ride, you have to ride. I was like... "I don't want to ride." But whatever, we're going along. And I think it was maybe a year or two or something. I finally bought my very first horse, my horse I have on my own. And he had a gigantic arthritic knee from racing. He was off the track race horse. So of course I'd buy that one. Why not? It's a one I could afford.
And he was wonderful, he was very handsome, he was sweet. But again, I knew there's no way this is going to last very long, just because you need a knee when you're a horse. And there's going to be competent story, things without legs and whatever else. But if I could get a couple of years out and maybe we can do a trail ride every now and again, perfect. That's all I really needed. She started riding him and I quite literally was like... "Okay, well then you can do everything with him as far as that's concerned, and then I'll just take care of him.' And everyone was like... "What are you doing?! He's your horse. You're supposed to be riding him." And shortly thereafter we had to move again, and then his legs actually did break down, and then we had to put him down, it was very sad, awful and terrible.
And that was again, I think I rode maybe once or twice after that, many years later. But that was basically the end of my whole career of horses. And you're like... "What on earth does this have to do it?!" The point being is that, I had built up in my own head without any outside influences that I was terrible, that I was inconveniencing people, that I was a disappointment. And then when you added it in any kind of kernels of other people saying... "Well, you know you're not that great." That just basically added on to what I was already thinking about myself. To the point where I literally poisoned the entire activity of horses for myself. I have not seen a horse in-person as of the recording of this podcast in probably 15 years, something like that. Have not actually have my hands on a horse, which is crazy to me.
It's nuts when I actually stopped to think about it. Because I love them. I love them, it was my first love, it was my first thing that I did as far as a career. And it's completely ruined. I'm so physically broken I probably couldn't ride anyway. But I think about... "Well maybe I could ask someone who has a horse like... 'Hey, can I just come over and groom them?'..."Oh no. I'm probably not even allowed to do that anymore." It's like, why not? I know how to take care of horses, I know how to be around them, I love them. I'm not a bad person but yet it's still such a poison thing for me.
What does this have to do with Scent Work? What does it have to do with dog training? Well, that same exact kind of psychosis crazy person talk, also applies when I'm a student, when I'm doing dog training. So in the times that I've taken classes with my own personal dog, with someone else, it has been an utter train wreck. Where I'm trying to balance, handling the dog, getting through everything they're asking me to do, making sure the dog is paying attention, making sure the dog isn't causing a ruckus, trying to fade into the background myself, worried that I am somehow inconveniencing this trainer person because who knows why?
And then completely distraught when things don't go absolutely perfectly well. That was magnified as soon as I became a professional dog trainer myself. Because now I'm working with a colleague as a professional and people know that I do this for a living. So that means that I absolutely should be perfect every single time I go out, right? Of course not. But that's what I think. And when it doesn't go absolutely positively fantastically well, I just stopped going. And say... "Well, I guess I'm just not that good. And I don't want to take away the time from everybody else. I don't want to distract from the other students. I don't want to disappoint the instructor. I don't want to waste their time. I am just too dumb and dense to get this."
I mean, really?! But the sad fact is why am I sharing any of this? First of all, I don't care. I'm pretty much an open book. But I share it because I see the same exact type of thing, maybe not to the same extent, but glimmers of it, flavors of it, with people that I've worked with over the years. Where they just start wilting in class. And I have to go over and be like... "You know you don't have to do this perfectly, right? We're not solving the world's problems." And being a student is hard. It's hard to learn just on your own, right? Just think of anything, just think of in school. But now I'm asking you not only to learn something new, but I'm asking you to teach another living being to do something in this exact moment, in front of all of your peers where you're pretty much guaranteed someone's going to do it really well.
And it bakes in this whole notion of, "what's wrong with me. I don't understand why I'm struggling and everyone else seems to get it." When we don't realize, is that everyone's going to struggle with something at some point. You will have in every single class, that one dog who just seems as though they can do it all, right? They're not distracted, they're focused on their person, they're just so amazing. And all the other classmates are like..."Isn't that dog so great. Wow. I really liked them so much. Stupid fricking a dog!" It makes you feel inferior as a dog handler, right? And then you feel ugly like... "Oh, that's such a terrible thing to think."
And you're stuck in all of this nonsense and now you've completely disregarded what the instructor was telling you because you were so caught up in like... "Oh, we're never going to be as good as that dog." Particularly if you're the team that goes after that dog. And it's just a nightmare. But what we forget is that that dog who is acing it, is going to have something that they don't ace, right? It could even just be that maybe they just feel well a certain day. But the amount of pressure that actually puts on that team is insurmountable. I have seen so many golden ticket teams, right? The golden children, right? The ones that everyone's like... "Oh my God! Aren't you just so frank and perfect!"
And then they just shatter because there's so much pressure, there's so much expectation from everybody and they of course going to do well. But there's going to be something that they struggle with. And the amount of pressure that they're putting on themselves, about pressure they're feeling from everybody else, it's really a lot. So what does all this mean? It means that everybody is struggling. You had the people with the dogs who were distracted, you have the people with the dogs who were struggling because it's a social environment, you have the people with the dogs who are just young and exuberant and like... blook butterfly. You have the dogs who are usually just so amazing. And then they're not for whatever reason. Then you have all the handlers. Those are just the dogs.
They got to talk about the people. The people had a really bad day at work. The people who had a really bad day with their kids. The people who are in the middle of a divorce or experienced a death or something. Someone who's like me and just bringing all kinds of mental baggage of the whole situation. Someone who really hates being in social situations. But here they are in a group dog training class, it is a nightmare. It is just a mess. So the fact that anyone gets anything done in any of these situations is really pretty remarkable. So what can we do to try to help in all this, right? Let's bring out some real tangible solutions, shall we?
The biggest thing is just to be honest with yourself. As your own individual, you need to be honest about who your dog is, you need to be honest about yourself. And you need to make sure that you are open to making changes and adjustments as you go. So that could be making changes and adjustments to your goals, to things you may want to do, to the types of training you may want to do, to how it is you want to train, to the amount of time you're going to grant yourself to learn something, and to be honest about how you're feeling, right? And I know that there are a lot of people who are going to say, "Well, just work through it and stop being such a baby." You know what? You're spending your hard earned money to do this.
Well, I think that Scent Work is something that every single dog should do. Guess what, you and your dog will get through life if you never do dog training at all. It's not food or water, it's not vitally important to your existence. So because of that, because it's a recreational thing, it should be something that you look forward to, even if it's challenging, but it should be an appropriate type of challenge. It should be something that you feel as though you can rise up to meet it. It shouldn't be like a drill sergeant, "Well, aren't you just the worst and weakest type of person if you don't do this!" That's awful. That's not what this is supposed to be.
So be it honest with yourself and say... "I'm really starting to think of reasons not to go to class. But I paid for the class. I paid hundreds of dollars to go the class. Why am I making up excuses not to go to class?" If you live somewhere where there's snow days, like... "Oh, thank God it snowed, I don't have to go to class today!" That means there's something wrong. And I've been there. I have done the snow dance in front of my windows begging for a snow day. I've done that from the time I was little with horses. I was a freaking instructor doing a little snow dance in my kitchen and my husband would be like... "What are you doing?", "I'm praying for more snow." He's like... "Why?" Its that I can't do it today. I can't teach today, or I can't go to a class today. I just mentally can't do it. And because life is cruel, it would never snow on those days. So, whatever.
But the point being is that, I want you to learn from my pain. I should learn from my mistakes. There's no reason why you should ever let it get to that point. You shouldn't be dreading doing any of this. You should be looking forward to it. There may be things that you struggle with that you're like... "Oh God, we have on-leash searches. I find on-leash searches so hard." That's entirely different from... "Oh, we're doing on-leash searches, I'm not going to search", or... "Oh, we're doing on-leash searches, I'm going to go cry in my car." There's different levels. And we try to avoid the absolutely obscene amount of mental anguish. What can we do? From your own self personally... Again, I know I've said this before, but be honest with yourself.
Take account of where you are, right? Try to just sit there and think. "I'm going to go do dog training. How do I feel about that?" And if it's not like... "Wow, I'm really excited to do this" or "I think this is fun, I think this is interesting, I think this is challenging but I would like to see the other side." It's more of like... "Oh God, why?!", then you need to reassess. Something is wrong. This is all supposed to be fun. And I know it sounds really cheesy, but it's true. This is a recreational thing for you to be doing with your dog. And if you're viewing it as something else, it's going to get gross really quick.
So be honest with yourself. And also if you're working with an instructor or a trainer, please be honest and open with them. I'm sure that any of the people that I've worked with over the years would have greatly appreciated if I had just told them from my horse people, "Hey, by the way I have all these physical problems and I'm trying my best and I don't want to disappoint you, and I don't want to waste your time." They probably would have been shocked and being like... "Well, first of all, you're not going to disappoint me and you're not wasting my time, you paid me. Your parents paid me for the horse people." And for the instructor is still like... "You're paying me money. It's my job, right? I'm here to help you." But they can't do that if they don't know what's going on.
So, when you shut down or when you're not doing as much, or you're trying to cut corners because you're trying to showcase something as hard for you, like doing searches on-leash, if they don't understand what's going on, it may come across as you're just not trying. Or that you're not listening to them. Or you're not listening to their advice. Or you're second guessing them. And that's when things can get really ugly really quick. They're taking it as something completely different whereas you're trying to not showcase the fact that you don't feel comfortable doing this thing yet as a skill. So if you have this open and honest discussion with your instructor, there may be certain things that you may be able to do individually completely away from your dog in order to help you feel more comfortable.
Some instructors have their own personal dogs that they actually allow students to work with, maybe that would help. Maybe having you either watch them work their own dog, or if they were comfortable allowing you to work their dog with them or on your own with them still present, maybe that would help, right? Being able to... For instance, being able to do searches on-leash. Working with a dog that is completely fine doing a search, and then you can figure out the actual mechanics, or maybe they as the instructor hold onto the end of the clasp and they pretend to be the dog so that you can get the mechanics down. Maybe they could do a search and you could sit there and you can call out the things that you see, as far as dog body behavior, or maybe you could design a search that they're going to run.
There's all kinds of different things that you can do but basically understanding that there are skills that you need as a handler, and by partnering with your instructor or your trainer, you may be able to find creative ways to build up those skills for yourself first, so that you actually feel like you know what you're doing. Then you can start working with your dog. And I don't think there's a lot of programs that do that. I think that if people thought about it more, they would. And I think it'd be really helpful. So particularly if you're finding yourself in the same kind of situation of, "I'm terrible, I'm awful," all this really negative self-speak that I'm very good at for myself. But if you find yourself in the same kind of boat, it could just be that you need more time focusing on your own skills, and really highlight the things that maybe you do know, proving to yourself that you know something, and also having that open conversation with your instructor or your trainer, so that it's reaffirming for you, that they are not sitting there secretly hating you or wishing your demise.
That they actually are your partner. That they are actually working with you. That they want you to be successful. I don't know of any colleagues that I respect that are hoping for students to do badly. I know it makes me feel terrible when a student is struggling. Because to me, that's a failure on my part. The whole part, the whole thing I'm supposed to be doing as an instructor is helping them. So they're not doing well then that looks poorly on me. I need to figure that out. So to anyone out there who is working with a professional instructor or trainer, that person is there to help you. And they can only do that if they know what's going on, right? Now, that doesn't mean that they're your therapist.
It doesn't mean they have to know every inner workings of your mind, but let them know like... "Hey, by the way, I'm really nervous doing this stuff in class. Could I maybe take some privates with you and then do a class? Could we take a pause on the class and I can do some private one-on-one stuff so that I feel a bit more secure and then I can come back into class? Could I do some other exercises outside of class? What can I do? Because right now, I'm just paralyzed with nerves. Because I just don't feel as though I'm where I'm supposed to be. I just feel lost." And the thing that I really want to highlight to kind of wrap this all up is that we all learn differently. And the challenge with people taking group classes and any instructor or trainer will know this, is that you're trying to cover as many different learning styles as possible.
And again, maybe this is just me because maybe I'm just not that great. But I know that when I was teaching in-person, regardless of how hard I tried, there was always going to be one or two people in a class. It wasn't always the same week, it usually moved around. But I would give an explanation or whatnot and there'll be one or two people that would just have this blank look on their face. I did not reach them at all. They had no idea what I was talking about, no clue. So I then would have to retool what I said, or I would have my assistant go over if I had one, to try to help them. To kind of bring them up to speed before I can go over there and really help them one-on-one. So what we have to recognize in these group learning environments is that you may actually need a little bit more help.
That doesn't mean that you're bad. Doesn't mean that you're lesser then. It just means that that moment didn't meet your needs. So work with your instructor or your trainer so that your needs are met. And it could just simply be because you're putting 99.9% of your attention onto your dog who's like... "Oh my God, this place is terrible. Oh my God, I have to go yell at that dog" or whatever, right? You're just trying to contain the beast. And then you look up and everyone's doing stuff that I have no idea what we're doing. There could be a multitude of reasons why this is. But again, I think that we have these open and honest discussions that it's not all unicorns and rainbows. It's not everyone is just going out there and doing things . They're not. And yes, I'm going to put it out there that I really highly doubt that I'm the only person who is a professional trainer who struggles. And if anyone says that I'm the only one, I think they're lying.
I'm happy to talk about it, because I really don't care. I have such a poor opinion on myself as it is. What's anyone going to say... "Oh, she's terrible." Yes. I agree with you, I'm terrible, whatever. But I do think that there is some service to being honest about these things so that we're not putting this under pressure on ourselves, so that instructors aren't inadvertently putting undue pressure onto their students. So that students aren't putting undue pressure back on instructors, and so that individually instructors aren't putting pressure on themselves and students aren't putting pressure onto themselves either. Again, this is just dog training. We're not changing the way the earth sits on its axis or anything. It's fine. We'll all be fine. But I don't want anyone to go down the path that I have of, first of all, being at the level of self-loathing that I met, no one should be. It's not healthy. But taking something that was really passionate about, were the horses. That really was my earth and my moon, it was my 24/7 thing, I absolutely loved it. To now it's not part of my life at all.
I don't want that to happen to anyone, it's a really gross experience to go through. So if you love dogs, you love your dog, and you're having fun with them, I want you to stay there. That's a happy place to be. Stay in that little realm. And if that means that you have to take some really honest assessments of how it is you're thinking about things, how you're approaching things, and then making some adjustments, then please do. Because being on the other side of it, where you've poisoned the entire activity, and then you're cutting it out of your life altogether, that's not fun. And I don't want you to have to go through that.
So again, this is more of a confessional than anything I guess. I'm completely fine talking about any of this stuff. It doesn't bother me in the least. And I think that it would be helpful for all of us as a community to be a little bit more open about these things. I don't think that it's overly advantageous for us to put unrealistic expectations onto ourselves or one another. I think it's fine to want to always improve. But I think this idea that there are just flawless people and dog and handler teams running around it's all a lie. It's not true. So I think that we could really help one another. If we're just a little bit more honest and a little kinder to ourselves, I'm not going to do that to myself, because I like not liking myself. But I think that everyone else should be a little bit kinder to themselves, and kinder to each other, right?
So, anyway, let me know what you guys think. Was this helpful? Do you like these kinds of conversations? Do you like these kinds of pockets? You're like... Let's just go back to the other stuff. Would you? I thought the other stuff was pontificating, but this is just too much. Let me know what you think. We're going to be posting a link to this podcast on our Facebook page. So it's the easiest way for you to post any comments that you may have. Comments or thoughts, suggestions, feedback, we'd love to hear from you. All right, guys. Thanks so much for hosting. Happy training and we look forward to seeing you soon!