Over the course of my seminar presenting career I know I have helped a lot of dogs by sharing with their owners, the knowledge that I have gleaned from my mentors.  However, there have also been those students that did not hear the message as I intended and, for whatever reason, suffered a bruised ego or hurt feelings. For this reason, you will find people that rave wildly about my workshops and those that pass along warnings of impending horrors.  I recognize that you can’t be all things to all people and that no seminar presenter will be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t pretend to paint myself with a rose-coloured, blameless paintbrush. My fault lies entirely in my passion. I remind myself every time I teach of the truth that “people will not remember what you say as much as they will remember how you made them feel.”  Regardless of this reminder, I know that I can get carried away with my drive to improve people’s dog training. Without intending to be, I can occasionally may step on toes when delivering my message. However my heart is always in the right spot and luckily for me,  there are far more people that thoroughly enjoy the workshops that those that go home feeling otherwise.

 There are students that just want to be told that they are wonderful and that their only limitations are that of  their dog’s lack of talent. Imagine if Susan Garrett told you, you were amazing and with a better dog your potential would be limitless? I know students have been told that, but I can honestly say it has never come out of my mouth! I believe in the potential of every dog and the only way a dog can live up to his potential is for his owner to recognize his role in the transition. We all need to realize that change is the only way to improve in anything. I have many students that have no desire to be world-team brilliant. They continue to work with me because they want the constant reminders of how to steadily improve as they enjoy time training their dogs. I am not suggesting it is everyone’s duty to make their dog be as good as it could be, only that we should all be careful to not allow pride to limit the education we receive. In order to take advantage of all the knowledge that you are exposed to, take the advise of mental prep coach Terry Orlick. In his book “In Pursit of Excellence” Terry suggests that coaches are humans.  Passionate and caring but deliver messages differently – as athletes, we process the information differently. Our ulitimate role is to process it, and make the change immediately.  The delivery may or not be in the format you would like, but the change in behavior needs to happen, it is why you are at the workshop or why you have the coach.  While dog training, you need to make those changes in your next work session or run, not a week from now or after you digest the delivery and process how you are feeling. Acting on the feedback immediately means you won’t continue to rehearse errors and your implementation of the coaches input will help to heal any mis-communication that may have occurred between you and the coach during the delivery of the message.

For more great tips from Terry check out his website at www.zoneofexcellence.ca.

There was not any one person or situation that prompted this blog post (if any of your are feeling I am writing about you I am not:)). Perhaps I wrote this to prepare the people in Vancouver where I will be teach for 10 days at the end of March:). What is more likely, is that my intend is just to share the tools to help us all to make the most out of any learning situation that happens our way.  

I am grateful to everyone that has spent time with me at a workshop during my 14 year career. I am grateful both to the “easy” students and those that I may have thought at the time, where a pain in my behind. Like anything in life, it is in the reaching of the more challenging students that makes me a better teacher  (or drives me to drink:). If anyone  reading this has felt offended by something I have said at a workshop, please accept my apologize as I am sincerely not the type of person to purposely hurt anyone. Feel free to post your comments, I promise I won’t censor anyone!