Who are you when it comes to dog training?

When asked "Who Are You?" regarding our involvement in dog training, we often have a split personality.

Am I a training geek? Amazed by all the nuances in training? In awe of my dog's ability to learn complex skills and tasks? Learning all that I can about the "science of training"? Exploring around the edges, such as with concept training?

Am I a dog sport trainer? Working with my own dogs as well as my students' dogs in helping them reach their goals of a true partnership in training and their competition goals? Exploring the most up-to-date training methods for my sport? Always on the search to make myself more clear and more valuable to my dog? Creating a partnership that includes concepts such as consent?

Am I a pet dog trainer? Working with inexperienced handlers who have yet to learn how to communicate with their dogs effectively to meet their seemingly simple goals of a well-mannered pet? I say seemingly, because in reality the work of a laymen is often ten-fold the work of an experienced trainer. Much of what they must learn, we now do by rote.

In truth I am all three. That doesn't mean, though, that all three of my "personalities" view training or apply the same techniques in the same way.

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Preparing Yourself for Big Dog Events (Even if You're an Introvert)

Big events are wonderful.

Big events are scary.

Big events in our dog training/ sports world can be a trial, show, championships, nationals, seminar, camp or any time a major outcome goal is on the line.

We often talk about taking care of our dogs through the process: making sure they have the skills to function in that environment; bringing lots of treats; focusing on what they are doing right; setting up their crate area in a good place for them; balancing time out in the atmosphere with time to nap and rest; stopping and assessing where they are at and determining next steps. All these things sound great on paper — and they are!

But if you aren't taking care of yourself, they become moot points. You won't perform at the best level possible unless you are both on your A game.

Events like this feel scary because they matter. They are important to you, and that's why you care. And caring is good right? So, what can we do to take care of ourselves at these events? We need to plan ahead for OUR needs. 

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Teaching Your Dog to Wear a Muzzle

Teaching your dog to be comfortable wearing a muzzle is a good idea for a number of reasons. One of them is safety on a hike: if you don't trust your dog 100% around dogs, critters, people etc., having her wear a muzzle will help you relax. If your dog doesn't like strange dogs invading her personal space, but you would like to take her hiking in places where you will occasionally encounter off-leash dogs, having her in a muzzle keeps everyone safe. (Having her on a leash doesn't do that, because strange dogs may still run up to her.)

When I have Grit off leash in an area where we might encounter dogs or people, I usually have her wear a muzzle. She is good with dogs who keep out of her way or greet her politely, but she is not the kind of dog who appreciates rambunctious dogs who come barreling up to her.

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The Power of an "Aha" Moment: 10 Lessons that Changed How FDSA Students Train

Everyone in positive training has heard it: When you know better, do better.

But that "know better" is going to look a little different for everyone. Sometimes, we need to hear the same message said multiple ways from different people before it truly sinks in. At FDSA we give out a lot of training advice. And if i say so, most of it is pretty dang good. But some moments stand out as better than good.

Better than "better," even. 

For today's blog post, we turned to our students to find some of those gems — the moments that stood out to them as major "aha" moments, the things that changed their perspective, shifted their training, and helped them become "better" when training their dogs.

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What To Do When It All Goes Wrong: Dealing with Frustration & Failure in Dog Sports

Dealing with disappointment in the heat of the moment is tough. 

When you expect success and glory and are instead embarrassed, mortified, or otherwise upset it's a pretty human reaction to get upset, distressed, angry or uncomfortable. 

There are a whole lot of techniques and tools that we can apply to the aftermath of such a stressful moment. In that exact moment, though, when you look at your canine partner and think "WHO ARE YOU?" or "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" or whatever other negative thought stops your brain from functioning — well what can you do?

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Dealing with Negative People: A Guide for The Positive Dog Trainer

So. It's happened. Maybe for the first time, perhaps for the 50th. No matter. It still stings, enrages you, upsets you, and gets under your skin.

Somebody made a snarky comment about you as a trainer, your positive training choices or, even worse, your dog.

The nerve! How dare they?

You chose to be a positive trainer after careful consideration, perhaps even after using a more forceful, punishment-based methodology. You might look up to many amazing positive trainers and be certain that if you were just as good a trainer as they are then the comment wouldn't have happened. 

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