Okay, I know I haven’t written in a while. Crazy busy around here again. But at 2 AM the coyotes outside our bedroom window told me I should write a blog so here I am. I have mentioned in the past that I am a fan of Anthony Robbins’ teaching. One thing Tony promotes is to live your life as a “player” rather than a “victim.“ In dog training terms a victim is a person who owns an agility (or other sport) dog who;

  • Knocks Bars (is a “bar knocker”)
  • Shuts down
  • Zooms out-of-control
  • Tunnel sucks
  • Is a “weave pole blitherer”
  • Visits the scribe
  • Leaves the ring
  • Sniffs
  • Lacks impulse control
  • Has start line issues
  • Ignores your handling cues
  • Acts like he can’t hear you
  • Is a “freak-a-zoid”

DeCaff who learned to overcome fear through play.

Do you get what I am saying. A victim just happens to own the one dog on the planet or one from a genetically similar band of dogs that don’t “follow the laws of learning.”  Now most victims still love these dogs just as much as any of us, but how sad for them that they happen to be saddled with such a dog while lucky people like the rest of us have wonderful, problem-free dogs that are born to be perfect right from the start!

A victim is a victim because, unconsciously anyway, it meets their basic human needs which Tony describes as: Certainty, Variety, Love and Significance. Tony suggests when anything meets 3 of our 4 basic needs it becomes an addiction (hence dog agility addictions).

If you have a dog that embarrasses you for what ever reason you have certainty in your life that the dog will do as you expect (ie embarrass you, even though you say you hope this time will be different). You have variety because every embarrassment is slightly different for you. You get love & connection from your friends who comfort you and listen to your tale of drama each time it happens and you get significance because YOU are the one that owns that “________” dog.

(Fill in the blank with anything from the list above)

You are a victim. What a trooper you are to stick with such a dog even though he has “issues.”  You play little roll in this dog’s limitations it is his; structure, mental make up, genetics (his sibs or parents are this way), bad experiences as youngster or breed that are to blame.

You create drama where ever you go and often your drama is reinforced because their will be others sharing their own plight of woe whenever you start up on yours! Just hang out around ring side when someone has had a poor run with such an agility dog “well there he goes, up to his old tricks of _____________” You can fill in the blank of old tricks from my list above.

I am not suggesting that all dogs were born with the same amount of God given talent. I am saying that how we as dog owners respond to disappointments along the way play a massive roll in not only bringing out this dog’s true potential but also in how enjoyable the journey is for each of us along the way!

The flip side of the “victim” coin is the “player.” Life doesn’t happen “to you” it happens “for you.”  Every situation has an upside and ever state can be changed in a blink of an eye. You do not need to re-live your pain by telling everyone that is in ear shot of what just happened, you search for a way you can make life better for you and your dog.

I am dyslexic. I consider that one of the biggest blessings in my life because it has developed within me a unique “outside the box mentality.” I learn differently, I see things differently, so I approach dog training differently; which I know is a big reason for my ability to innovate and have success at what I do.

Now reading that last statement those of you that are victims would have said to yourself “oh crap that explains it, Susan Garrett is the kind of dog trainer that I can never be because I am not dyslexic!” While the players out there said the themselves, “hmmm, interesting to read how Susan Garrett sees things differently, I wonder what unique talent I have that she doesn’t that will allow me to become even better than that Susan Garrett.”

Victim or player. It is a matter of choice and a matter of habit, but being a player is so much more fun.

Today I am grateful for all of the challenges my dogs and students have brought me that have helped to open my doors of learning.