Hi! I am so glad, and honoured to be a part of this project.
A top ten list seems like a fitting way to kick off a new project and a New Year too so without any further ado here are 10 characteristics you can focus on building to help your training time be happier for you, and your canine partner!!
1. Persistence: Happy trainers are willing to try, try again. They know that there will be more runs, more days, and the slow and steady approach wins in the end. They understand that frustration is part of the learning curve and don’t threaten to quit after every mistake. They don’t make excuses, they don’t blame others. They carry on. You can test this by setting some goals for your training and maintaining a positive attitude as you work through your plan.
2. Open-mindedness: the best dog trainers know there is something to be learned from everyone, even if to see proof of why NOT to do something. They are not handling preachers, and are always aware that good handling is good handling no matter the style. Be aware and open to alternate solutions and what your dog is telling you.
3. Responsibility: Happy handlers understand that they made the dog they run. They celebrate an error as a gap that they can work on. They take responsibility for the holes rather than being upset by the dog. They “get” that they are the one with the ultimate responsibility for both training and competition. It’s not about blame it’s about learning, inspiring and aspiring!
4. Enough is enough: This may seem counter-intuitive, but knowing when you over facing or drilling a dog into the ground is critical to happy training. You can quit when ahead. Remember the age and needs of your canine partner. The best trainers have dogs who always want more! They seem to intuitively know when enough is enough. They have the patience to invest the time to develop the skills needed.
5. Timing: Great trainers have fabulous timing. Timing in training progression, timing in rewards, timing in progression of training. You don’t see them stalling out on a 2 set weave pole, teaching down, or running a teeter between 2 tables for months on end. Think about your timing, video and analyse a training session with an eye on timing.
6. Self-Improvement: The best dog people work to understand their whole dog and themselves. That doesn’t mean jumping on a bandwagon for the sake of it (chiro, acupuncture, raw fed, animal communication, whatever!) but it means thinking about what your dog really needs and making it happen (which might be any of the previously mentioned things). Seek to be a better trainer of the dog you love. Understand that this takes money, time and humility! It means thinking about improving your mental game in the partnership too.
7. Seeing the Big Picture: Good trainers enjoy the “play” and the path as much as they do the outcome goal achievement. They know that each day and each step is as important as the other and is a natural progression in development. All comes in the fullness of time – any day might be your last day to play so let them all count, and find things to celebrate whenever possible.
8. Joyful Role Models: Happy trainers know good training when they see it and seek it out. Embrace those who will not only help you improve on a competitive level, but also on a personal level. Bring joy to those around you including the dog partners. Don’t be afraid to aspire to happiness in your training.
9. Positive Problem Solving: Happy trainers can tackle issues in a variety of ways to solve them. They understand that different dogs may require different strategies to be successful. Further they embrace the uniqueness of each agility partner they play with. They understand that punishment is not necessary and is destructive to relationships generally. Embrace challenges as puzzles to work through and figure out a variety of solutions to test.
10: Good Listeners: Happy trainers have open ears. They are aware and sensitive to the feedback from their dogs, and aware and not defensive about feedback from other sensible thoughtful happy dog trainers. Take the information you hear and adjust responses and plans accordingly. Don’t be afraid to test something new, or something outside of your comfort zone – you may find it is a little piece, a key, that will unlock further happiness and joy in your training.