Real Talk - We Need to Do Better
Strap in, it's time for some real talk. As a community, we all need to do better in how we interact with one another, especially as it pertains to different training approaches. Instead of backing ourselves into a corner, ready to lash out and go on the attack simply because someone trains differently than we do, as a community we need to stay open-minded and willing to cultivate as many tools for our individual toolboxes as possible. Our dogs deserve nothing less!
The fact of the matter is this: we are all on the same team and all want the same thing - for our dogs to have fun playing the sniffy game. So, put out your torches, hang up your pitchforks and put that email or message in your draft folder to sit on for a bit before hitting "Send". Take a deep breath, and ask, "Am I being as good of a owner/handler/trainer/instructor I can be, or, am I letting both myself and my dog down by being tribal and close-minded?". We discuss this and more in our latest podcast episode.
Podcast Episode Transcript
Welcome to the All About Scent Work podcast. In this podcast, we talk about all things Scent Work, whether it be training tips, what your instructor or trial official may be going through, a behind the scenes look for how trials are put together, and much more.
In this episode, we're going to be having a heart to heart. We had some other talks planned for the podcast, but some things came up, and I want to make certain that we have a very honest discussion for the Scent Work community about how we can all be a little bit better.
Before we start diving into the podcast, let me just do a very quick introduction of myself. My name is Dianna Santos, I'm the owner and lead instructor for Scent Work University and Dog Sport University. Scent Work University is an online dog training platform, where we provide Scent Work specific online courses, webinars, and soon to be offering seminars. In addition to that, I've been teaching dogs professionally since 2011. I've specialized in working with fearful dogs, aggressive dogs, I've taught a variety of group dog training classes. I'm also an approved trial official, and I used to work for a competition organization for Scent Work.
As you know a little bit more about me, let's dive into this very important podcast episode.
For anyone who happens to follow me personally on social media, you may have heard that I received some fairly negative messages in the very end of 2018 and the very early part of 2019. Two of these messages were from different individuals who were very upset that I teach Scent Work the way that I do. They needed me to know that they thought that my training approach was incorrect, and that they were very upset that I was doing this, that I was doing online training at all, that I was having people learn with my training approach. They were just very upset with me. They were very, very upset.
We had emailed and messaged back and forth, because I'm always open to talking to people about difference of opinions. It doesn't bother me to have discussions. Really, open and honest discussions about training methods, and understanding from my perspective, that we can always learn, and that not every training approach is going to work for every handler and dog. That's completely true. Or it could just be a matter of preference. Maybe they want to do something a certain way, that's completely fine.
What I wanted to do in this podcast was to just challenge all of us as a dog training community, but specifically for Scent Work, to not be so tribal. This is going to rub some people the wrong way, and I'm going to apologize at the outset. Understand what it is that we're doing. We are training dogs to sniff things out for fun. We are not certifying dogs for SAR teams, or to work with police departments, or in the military, or bomb detection. That's not what this is. This is not life or death stuff. This is a game. This is a sport.
Even in the context of professional teams, there's still no unified way of training. Every single group may train a little bit differently. That's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. What I'm hoping that we can at least think about by the end of this podcast episode, is how we can maybe adjust the way that we think about training approaches, and we think about how we interact with one another. I don't think that this is something where I can sit up on my high horse and look down upon everyone. I think I can improve too. I think everyone can.
We get very married to certain ideas. It's better to just stay open minded, and realize that certain things may have value in certain situations. Sometimes, learning different approaches to see okay, I'm not going to be doing that, that doesn't work for me, or my dog, or how it is I want to do things, that's okay too. There's nothing wrong with that.
Just to make it clear, what is it that I do that is just so terrible, that got these people so upset? I follow the NACSW K9 Nose Work Teaching Method for teaching Scent Work. I am a CNWI, certified through NACSW. This is how I was initially taught, this is how I went through the certification process. It's how I've trained for years. I've gone to a number of seminars and workshops, I've always taken classes where other training methods were used. I can see some value in some of them for specific things.
Personally, I like the way that the K9 Nose Work Training Method starts dogs, where it's focusing solely on having the dog find food, so that it's building the dog's confidence, and it's also allowing either the instructor or the handler/trainer or both, to do an assessment of what it is that you may actually need to work on with that dog, particularly in the area of confidence.
Now, this is where my background comes into play, where I was specializing in working with dogs who were fearful, reactive and aggressive. These are dogs who may or may not ever, either their people don't even know what dog sports are, or they wouldn't be candidates to trial. The reason why we were doing Scent Work was to make it a part of their behavior modification program. It was to improve their quality of life.
That's where I'm coming at this from. This isn't so that they can achieve some title, and it's not that trialing is bad, it's not. That's how I started this. I didn't get involved in Scent Work because I wanted to obtain titles. I got started in it because I was trying to give my dog a better quality of life, who was incredibly aggressive. Trialing wasn't really an option for us. I saw that it did cause a lot of good things for him. It improved his life substantially.
With that in mind, when I was using it in my classes, whether it be Scent Work specific, of if I was weaving it in to my Control Unleashed classes, or even my basic obedience classes, it was with the idea of, 'Okay, how is it that we can give these dogs something that will improve their quality of life, that will build their confidence, that will allow them to be a dog, to give them an outlet, when a lot of the time, their lives are so sheltered, because it has to be?'. Because they need a lot of management, to either keep them safe from the world, or to keep the world safe from them, or a little bit of both.
It's with that foundation of why I got into this, that the K9 Nose Work Training Method really spoke to me, was that it's allowing the dog to lead. It's allowing the dog to make choices. It's not putting them into a situation where they have to be engaged, and it's not that shaping is bad, shaping is not bad. I love shaping. But, with some dogs, they can feel a lot of pressure in order to make the right choice. They may not feel as though they have the choice to make the choice. That's difficult to explain, but if you ever work with a really sensitive dog, either because they're fearful or because they're reactive, they don't have a lot of choices at all in their lives, because they don't make good choices. That's why they're in a behavior modification program to begin with.
There's a lot of management in their lives. By introducing Scent Work, you could actually set up some boxes with food in it, and just see what the dog does. They very well may come up, find one or two boxes and say 'Okay, I can't'. Then, allowing the dog to say, I can't, is a very powerful thing. To say okay, no worries. Then off you go. They go, 'Really? You're going to listen to me? That's great!'.
Then it's also, from a instructor perspective, one of the things that I really enjoy about this approach, is it helps handlers understand the power of manipulating the environment. As opposed to manipulating the dog, which is a huge premise behind this training method, where you're constantly adjusting and molding and figuring out how you can set up your actual exercise, long before you ever bring the dog into it. That's the whole point. How is it that I'm going to help my dog be successful in this run. What do I need to do to ensure that they can actually do this, and do it well. How am I going to promote them learning. What's the point? It makes you think like an actual trainer. It makes you think things through, as opposed to putting all of the pressure on the dog to figure it out.
You can manipulate and change how the search is set up, so that they can be a little bit more successful.
With all of this, when I was doing private lessons with people who had dogs, who were either incredibly shut down and they couldn't leave their front door without vomiting or diarrhea or whatever, because they were so terrified about everything, or, the other extreme, they couldn't leave their front door because they would be at the end of their leash and spitting and foaming and growling and scratching and ... For these people, they're not looking to go to the nationals, they don't even know what the nationals are. Their goal is to maybe walk out their front door, with their dog not losing their mind on either extreme.
That's all they want. They want some semblance of normalcy. They want to be able to have their dog be comfortable in their own skin. They want to feel as though they have tools to allow their dog to not be bouncing off the walls, because they're so managed and there's nothing that this dog can do outside of the four walls of their house, that doesn't send them over the edge. The power of being able to give those people the ability to give their dog the chance to sniff for food, is beyond amazing. They love their boxes.
I have to say, my clients are incredibly creative and brilliant people. Where they have come up with things that I never would've thought of. I had one couple who had a very difficult dog, was aggressive and fearful all at the same time. Had a long bite history before they ever adopted the dog, and was very problematic with other dogs, but also wasn't very good with people either.
We introduced a variety of different things for behavior modification, which, they were working very hard on. The one thing that we had introduced was Scent Work, as just a general concept. Something to give this dog an outlet. What they did, once they realized how much the dog liked it, is they incorporated this into their guest greeting routine. Which I never would've thought of in a million years.
The way that this would work, is they would have the dog on leash, a person would come in, they'd sit in their designated spot on the couch. They would set up some boxes with the dog's favorite treats, and the dog would come up and they would search. This would be almost an assessment: can the dog do the scenting game with this person in their house. They found out that they could, that the dog was so focused on the search, they weren't worried about the person, they weren't fixated on the person, the dog was happy and relaxed and engaged in the game.
They gave their jackpots, inside the boxes. They would then bring the dog back to their bed, which was away from the visitor couch spot. This is where the brilliance comes in. They would have the visitor toss high-value treats at that dog while the dog was on their bed, to be part of their party. If the dog seemed comfortable, the person would then put the high value treats into the boxes, so the dog could do another run. Depending on how the dog was doing, 9 times out of 10, when they first started this, they were amazed, the dog was totally cool with it. The dog would come up, they would search, they'd do another party, and then the dog would get to retreat into another back room with a chew.
That is amazingly brilliant. After they do that a couple times, that person would be part of the trusted group of people that this dog was comfortable with, where they could stay in the room, on leash still, while the person was there, before they retreat into the back room.
That's the beauty of this, of giving the dog the ability to make the choice. Shifting the thinking of the owners, and the handlers, of reading their dog, of listening to what their dog can actually do, of wanting to set the dog up for success, of being creative, but not of simply going, "Okay, we're going to do this and then this and then this, and then dog, you're going to do that and then that and then that."
I don't think they could've come up with this idea, if they were trying to get the dog onto odor, be it a target odor, birch, anise or clove, right out of the gate, or they were worried about alerts, or they were worried about all this other stuff. That had nothing to do with it. They are never going to use birch. At least not in the near future. I got them a scent kit as a gift, and they both said, "Oh, that's very nice, but we're good with food. He really likes food. It's easy for us.".
There's nothing wrong with that. What I'm hoping to show with this example is that there's lots of different reasons why people may be getting involved in Scent Work. I like all of them. I just want more dogs sniffing, whether it be because they want to go to the nationals as a goal, whether or not they just want to get a bunch of titles, if that's a goal, whether or not they just want to have fun with their dog, whether or not they're trying to use it as a behavior modification program, whether or not they just want to get some of the energy out for their dog, they want to give something as far as an outlet so the dog isn't bouncing off the walls.
Because they saw it in a newspaper article or a magazine article, or somewhere online, said "Oh, maybe I should do that.". I don't care why. I just want more dogs sniffing.
This is where we get to the real talk part. In case anyone wasn't certain, there are lots of different ways to teach Scent Work. I'm going to repeat that. There's lots of different ways to teach Scent Work. There is no golden rule. There is no only one way. There never will be, even as Scent Work matures over the years, there's never going to be just one singular way of doing things. If you want to be a good instructor, trainer, owner, handler, whatever, you should be, in my opinion, educating yourself about all the different types, about all the different approaches, and see what pieces of each would work for you.
There are some that you don't think are valuable at all. Again, that's just your personal opinion, and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. There are others where you say, "I'm not too fond of this or that, but I do really like the premise behind this and that. Maybe I can tweak it a little bit, to incorporate into what I'm doing.". Let me give you an example of a real-life application.
As I said, I am a CNWI, I use the K9 Nose Work Training Method for training, but that doesn't mean that I turn my mind off to anything else. For my dog, for instance, he loves, I mean, loves to bash containers. He thinks that throwing containers around is the best thing ever. It's just a fun thing, he's a very footsie dog. He slides across our hardwood floors all the time. He loves to pounce on things. It's just literally his personality, it's not as though it was a training thing that we did. It's because he's a Doberman, it's because of who he is.
I frankly find it very endearing. He's just a happy boy. That obviously doesn't really work, if you want to be trialing. I still introduced him to Scent Work using the K9 Nose Work Training Method, and he's 50/50 at a trial, whether or not he's going to bash containers or not. I think that if it was really going to be a big issue, that I would need to do something else. We were getting ready for one set of trials, this has to be a year ago now, I think, and in our practice sessions, he was consistently, if it was a closed box, and a long row of boxes, he would fly down and he would throw all of his weight on top of that box.
In addition to that, we were also working on ground hides. Things that are not in boxes, but just a hide that's actually on the ground, which was one of his weaknesses. He was able to find elevated hides no problem, but he had a really hard time finding ground hides. He had a breakthrough, where he was doing really well on finding ground hides, but now in his super enthusiastic, oh my God, I found it, he was now pouncing on and picking up and throwing, all kinds of craziness.
We worked on it, with pairing and everything else, and it was getting better. There was still this level of just insanity about it. He was just so over the top. I did one or two sessions of where I was going to actually try to shape a behavior for him, where this was mainly for the ground hide. I was going to do it for the containers, but it was mainly for the ground hide. I would just have a tin, just on the floor. He'd be on leash. He'd come up, as soon as he sniffed it, I would click, and then I would feed. I would feed and I would feed and I would feed and I would feed. Then we would leave, we would come up, we'd do it again.
I'm not looking for alert per se, I was looking to capture the "not kill the tin" behavior. He's already been on odor, he had been on odor for years. We were doing this with birch. We did this over, I think it was two or three sessions. Wouldn't you know, it helped immensely. I never used it again. It was a little stop gap kind of thing. We went back to our pairing, back to our other stuff, but I think it helped him understand, "Oh, I don't need to be pouncing on this. Who knew?".
Then we started doing that a little bit with the containers as well, where he would just come up, and I would click, and be "What a good dog, oh, that's a great dog.". Same kind of thing. I used it for two or three sessions, and then he was good. Is he consistently not bashing containers? No. Do I care? Not really. If it's something that I do care about in the future, I may work on it more. Again, I just think that his joy is just, I can't help myself. I just laugh when he does it. Whether or not we're going to be trialing a lot is really up in the air. Just because of my body, and because I'm on the fence about whether or not I think trialing is a good match for me personally, just personality-wise.
The reason I bring that up is, I could see the value in using something like shaping or operant training to build a behavior such as, let's not attack the tin, let's instead mark when you find it by putting your nose on it, or whatever. I could see the value in doing that after the dog actually understands what they're doing. In other words, he already knew what birch and anise and clove was. He already knew how to work ground hides. He already knew the whole concept behind all this. Now, we were truly working on behavior. We weren't working on understanding, we're working on behavior.
I think that's going to rub some people the wrong way. Where they would just say, "You could've just avoided all of this if you'd just done that from the beginning.". I think that's a perfectly fine discussion point. I would tend to argue that, in my opinion, it would be better to have the dog understand all that other stuff first, have a really good solid understanding of being an independent hunter, being able to work out different odor problems, so on and so forth, and then if you need to, you absolutely can start working on the behavior piece, no problem.
The same thing for formal alerts. Here, let's just dive into that discussion too. I personally am not a big fan of teaching formal alerts, particularly right out of the gate. Only because I've seen it backfire so many times. Again, because of the types of dogs that I was working with, and have worked with, that wasn't our goal. That's what the people wanted, obviously, but that's not what the dog needed. I needed the dog to make the choices. I needed the dog to develop their confidence. I needed the dog to lead the search. I don't need to turn all that off and then have the dog worry about sitting or downing or nose poking or whatever.
I also needed the person to do a lot more watching and observing and learning, because it doesn't just apply to Scent Work. This is a piece that I think a lot of people overlook, is when you have a handler, an owner, whatever title you want to give them, and they're working on Scent Work, and you have it set up where the dog is taking a lead and you're asking them to videotape their searches, to watch other classmates, if it's an in-person course, whatever the case may be, you are asking them to hone their eye as far as what a dog looks like when they're searching.
That doesn't just apply to Scent Work. Particularly when you're talking about people who are dealing with dogs with behavioral issues, one of the most important things that you can teach that person is how to properly read their dog. How to tell when their dog is starting to drown in whatever emotion it may be. They're getting stressed, they're getting worried, they're getting over the top. You need to get out of dodge. That's the information that's the most important, because then they can make good choices for their dogs.
If they don't know what any of that looks like, they're going to continually fail, no matter how often you do a behavior modification program, no matter how hard they try. A very big piece of it is being able to read your dog. You have to be able to read what your dog is telling you.
With that in mind, it's so incredibly important, in my opinion, to have handlers who aren't just simply throwing up their hands to be "Oh, look, I want a neon sign for my dog. I need them to be as obvious as day. Just do it for me. Tell me where this hide is.". I understand why you want that, I really do. Getting a "No" quite frankly sucks when you're at a trial. You're missing such an important piece. Being able to see what is your dog doing at this exact moment during a search, are they actually chasing odor, are they in odor at all, are they working at all, are they stressed, are they worried, are they sick.
I was doing a mock trial, and someone came up with their dog, and they're like, "Oh, they got carsick and whatnot". Okay, because I'm looking at the dog and the dog does not look well at all. I'm like, "Did you just get here?" They said, "Yes". I was like, "Okay, why don't you go into the back of the running order and let your dog's tummy settle a little bit, because they don't look like they're feeling very well." "Oh no, they're fine." I'm like, "Really, we're not going to take your run away. I'm telling you, your dog is not doing well." "Oh no, they're fine."
They went, and sure enough, the dog vomited as soon as they crossed over the start line. They had no clue. Now, could it have been that they were just stressed and that the person wanted to be able to get their run in, and they're worried about not doing their run? Who knows. I honestly think they just didn't know that their dog wasn't feeling well.
When you have a better understanding of all the things your dog is telling you while they're searching, a final alert behavior isn't all that important, because they're talking to you that whole time. You would be able to see if a dog is bracketing an inaccessible hide, that that is an inaccessible hide. Once you know what that looks like, it's pretty clear. When a dog does a whiplash turn, okay, they found it. They're closing in on it. When a dog suddenly stops, plants their front feet and starts swinging their hind end around, that's not odor. They want to leave a doggy text. All of that is so important, and has nothing to do with a final alert behavior at all.
Does that mean that I hate people who teach final alert behaviors? Absolutely not. I understand why people want to teach a final alert behavior, and I think that there is actually a value in a final alert behavior, in one element in particular. Vehicle searches. The reason being is that a vehicle search, one of the trends that I've noticed, particularly when I was involved with the competition organization, is that people were training their dogs, whether it be on purpose or inadvertently, to do aggressive alerts, where they wanted the dog to paw at something, or bite it, or whatever.
Vehicle searches are really hard. They're not easy. They're these big hollow things, odor flows all around them, and as a handler, you forget that wind is a factor. The hide may be on one side of the vehicle, but the wind is blowing it towards the other, and your dog is investigating where the odor is collecting, but that's not where the hide is, and so on and so forth. With a vehicle search, your dog is much more likely to be involved in a aggressive alert, if that's what they have in their repertoire, which is hugely problematic. I think it would be wonderful that if you had a dog who was an aggressive alerter for whatever reason, to teach them a formal alert behavior that was completely different.
I think that's completely fine. I don't think that's a problem at all. As long as you're not putting all your eggs in that one basket. You're still building the other skills, you're still teaching your dog to understand okay, the odor may be going here, but that's not where the odor is coming from. How do I find out where the odor is coming from? To allow your dog to come off of the vehicle somewhat, to chase the odor cone so they can get back to source, so that you're conducting the search well, where you're not doing check, check, check, check, check. That drives me crazy.
That's a perfect example. Does that mean that people who do check, check, check are wrong? They're not wrong. It's just a personal preference. It drives me batty, because I don't want to have to walk backwards around a vehicle, where I can barely walk forwards. I'm going to be bashing myself on those mirrors and be tripping over the car, I'm going to land on my ass, it's just going to be a mess. That doesn't mean that people who do that are wrong. It's just something that I'm not a big fan of. I would rather that my dog do the search independently.
This is what I mean, that while I wanted to do a podcast discussing what I'm hoping as a community we can do, it doesn't mean that I'm immune to it. We all have our preferences, and we all have things that we vehemently disagree with. Or, we just don't like, or we wouldn't do. That's okay. That doesn't mean that people who do it are bad. It doesn't mean that people who do it are, even necessarily wrong. Maybe it just works for them. Particularly with all the different types of training that I'm talking about, the dogs aren't being hurt. We're not talking about abuse here. We're not talking about hurting anyone or hurting anything or doing anything that's bad. All these approaches are perfectly fine, they really are.
They're even sound, and if you actually break it down, they all have their place. You can have success in doing any of them. What I'm hoping as a community that we can do, is we be a little bit more open-minded, just as a whole. Instructors, trainers, owners, handlers, everybody, to not be so quick to judge. To not want to just be so tribal of 'Oh no, you're doing that thing over there, therefore you are bad." That's just silly.
For my fellow instructors, here is some very harsh talk.
The allure is there, to build your base, to show A, that you know what you're doing, B, that you're better, and C, since you are better, that means the others are bad. I implore you, please don't do that. It's a huge disservice to your clients, it's also a huge disservice to yourself. Because then you're painting yourself into a box. You very well may have achieved amazing things, and you probably have, you very well may be the cream of the crop. With the dog, or dogs that you have now. With the clients that you have now. There will come a time when you either have a dog personally or you have a client, that all those things that you were saying how you are just the gift to the world for in what you do, they don't work.
If you have been painting yourself as this beacon from on high, this untouchable brilliant, "I am the best thing ever, all must yield before me", what are you supposed to do then? You're not going to reach out for help. You're not going to talk to your colleagues. They might frankly not want to talk to you, if you've been bashing them. There will come a time where you will reach a wall, as far as your own personal knowledge, skills, your weaknesses will show themselves, everybody has them. I have plenty.
Please, there are plenty of dogs out there, there are plenty of people out there who need help, who need someone to guide them throughout their Scent Work career. Whether it be because they want to do competition, or because they want to do it for fun.
There's lots of them, and particularly, if you have any access to online training, there's a whole big wide world out there. Meaning there's lots of potential clients for everybody. We could all, all of us, every single trainer who does Scent Work, could go to the nines in advertising and everything else, and there would still be dogs and handlers left over for everybody.
Don't be afraid to work with somebody else. Don't be afraid to try different things. Always keep learning. Stay humble. For the love of all, please share when things don't go well. The thing that bothers me the most, when I have a new client come to me, is where they and their dog are so incredibly stressed, defeated, deflated, and messages and emails I'll get are, "I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I don't know what's wrong with my dog, we did this, that and the other thing, and this and this and this is broken, and so on and so forth. We're nothing like so and so." Because so and so has been posting every day forever, about how they are brilliant. Their dogs are brilliant. It's always high in trial in this, high in trial in that. Where if they're not trialing, "Oh, I've only been teaching my dog for two seconds, and they can do summit trial level things, even though we never want to trail." "Oh look, I've been working with this dog who was aggressive and in two sessions, they're not aggressive anymore."
It's like, really? Come on. You're doing a huge disservice by doing that. I'm not saying don't celebrate your successes, please do. Feel free to show everyone that you're a person. Feel free to show everyone that your dog is actually a dog. I'm not saying that you have to blast out there, "Oh, by the way, we totally bombed this day." You don't have to say that. Talk about how you train. Talk about your processes. Talk about how yeah, we did really well with this and this, these couple things, we're working on, and that's okay.
It makes it so that you don't feel as though you have to be perfect. It takes a lot of pressure off of you. It also takes an incredible amount of pressure off of the dogs and their people. As professionals, that is our job. Our job is not to create more problems. If people are rushing through their training, because they're trying to achieve these impossible goals, because they think that's what's involved when it's not, that's just a dereliction of duty, in my opinion.
I don't think anyone's doing this on purpose. I think that it's ... I think if people just think, as my fellow colleagues, but that's what you have to do. You have to show that you're the best, that you're great, that you're this or you're that. Otherwise, people won't want to work with you. Yes, you have to show you know what you're doing. Yes, you should know what you're doing. That's only part of it.
Being real, letting people know that you're not perfect either, that it's okay to make mistakes, they're not going to break their dog, how they can avoid breaking their dog, and also showing that you're flexible. Be like, "Okay, yeah, I like teaching this and this in this way, but I also have these tools in my back pocket should I need them. You should also, little client of mine, stay open-minded. Don't just take my word as gospel. By all means work with other people. By all means, watch other videos. Do webinars, do seminars. Do in-person things. Go to YouTube. Learn to your little heart's content." The second I have a client start telling me that I'm the best trainer ever, I put the brakes on that real quick.
Because I'm not going to be actually reach them. All that's turning into is idolization, which has no place in dog training. I am not perfect. I am very, very far from it. I'm also not the most experienced. There are people who've been doing this longer than I've been alive. Of course I'm not going to be more experienced than they are, that's ridiculous.
The point being is that, we have to be careful of how is it we're conducting ourselves as professionals. Realize that you do have a lot of pull, and that you have a lot of clout. People are watching what you do, they're watching what you post, they're watching what you say. If you are constantly saying A, that you are basically the second coming, B, that your approach is the only approach, and C, all other approaches are wrong, you are affecting all of your clients. When you really start building up basically a cult-like following, which is kind of disturbing, that's when people start reaching out to other colleagues like me.
It's not a fun way for me to spend my time. I highly doubt I'm the only one who's ever gotten a negative comment from someone.
This big, very long, rambling episode, in closing, we all need to stay open-minded. There's lots of different ways to get to the same goal point. People may very well have completely different goals, and that's okay. Learn as much as you can. Train with as many people as possible. Take as many classes, webinars, seminars, read books, watch videos, even if it's just to say, "You know what, I don't really like any of that, or I don't think that works for me or my dog." For me, some of my best learning was, "Yeah, now I know what not to do." That's okay. That's still learning, that's still information. You may find a nugget, you may find a piece of gold in there that you never would've thought of before.
How wonderful would that be for both you and your dog? Let's just all stay a little bit more open-minded, know that we're all on the same team. I may not train the way that you do, but my goal is to have more dogs sniff. That's it. There's no nefarious thing behind it. I'm not looking to do anything bad. I just want more dogs sniffing. That's all. If you don't agree with how someone trains, that's okay too. You don't have to train with that person. That's not a requirement.
I think if we could all just take a step back, and not be quite so invested in the approaches, and not become so tribal, and not think that we have to go to war for each other, I think we'd all be a little bit better off.
Thanks so much for listening. I hope that this podcast episode at least got everyone thinking. Happy training, we look forward to seeing you soon.
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