A letter from your Trainer
As your Trainer and Behaviourist I will always give you and your Dog especially 150% even when I make myself look daft, climbing through tunnels, lifting Dogs, talking in the baby voice, crouching and all the other crazy stuff I do as Trainer to gain your Dogs trust and respect. I will always put their needs and trust first and I hope you all know this and I will always do my best to go above and beyond for you all too. Being a Trainer is hard it isn't all cuddles and play, it can be hard and exhausting and sometimes painful, physically and emotionally. But I will always be the best I can be for you and I hope you all know and see this :)
I have copied this piece from a fellow Trainer which really resonated with me which I thought you all might like to read too titled BE KIND TO YOUR TRAINER: from Kommetjie Canine College
I hope this post is not too self-indulgent, but I know so many colleagues who are struggling at the moment that I believe awareness needs to be raised. Compassion fatigue and burnout is common in this industry, so I hope this may help others to understand what trainers and behaviourists experience and will go a little way towards fostering kindness and compassion.
Most people get involved in dog training or become dog behaviourists because they want to work with dogs. Many outsiders envision the job as playing with puppies and changing dogs lives for the better. What most people don’t consider, is that dogs and puppies come attached to humans and it is actually the human part of the equation that we as trainers spend the most time interacting with. Classes and consultations are focused on teaching owners how to train and interact with their dogs – while we may occasionally step in to demonstrate an exercise with a dog and are constantly observing all the dogs in class and looking out for their wellbeing, 90% of our energy goes towards instructing and interacting with the humans.
For many of us, this does not come naturally. Often people who are drawn to working with animals are introverts – we feel comfortable and relaxed in interactions with non-human animals, but find interactions with people slightly anxiety-inducing. Teaching and interacting with clients in groups or one-on-one can be intimidating for someone who is naturally socially reserved and while many of us become pretty good at it, being good at it requires an enormous amount of emotional energy.
Behaviourists and trainers are also usually empathetic people – being able to observe body language and constantly evaluate an animal’s emotional state accurately requires one to be sensitive to how others are feeling. This part of our job’s is so important, that much of our training is aimed at enhancing these skills, so that we are sensitive to the subtlest changes and shifts in mood. Because humans come attached to dogs, we also end up becoming sensitive to human body language and emotional states and pick up quickly when people are unhappy, annoyed or tense. During every class we have to balance the emotions and moods of a variety of people and their dogs – and we have to find a way to be sensitive to these moods, without allowing it to throw us off our game, affect us personally or damage our professionalism in a class situation.
We deal with a huge range of dog owner personalities which can also be quite challenging: We have people who are there under duress, because their wife, husband, mom or dad insisted that they train the dog, when they don’t really think it is necessary. We have people who have trained with old-school methods in the past and resent “treat training”, but attend anyway, because we are the closest training school. We have people with physical limitations or emotional challenges who need careful and gentle handling. We have people who want to have the opportunity to train their dogs, but don’t want instruction from us, because they have their own ideas and want to do their own thing. We have people who are in complete denial over their dogs’ issues or totally inconsiderate of other people’s or other dogs’ needs in the class. We have those who got a dog “to teach my child some responsibility” or view us as an extra mural children’s activity and try to drop off kids and dog for us to deal with alone. And, of course, we have those who want our services, but do absolutely everything to avoid actually having to pay for them.
Then we have those golden clients who train their dogs because they recognise the value in doing so, those who love their dogs and want to ensure that all their needs are met, those that respect us and what we do and trust our guidance. Those who stay for years, just because it is so much fun and because of the bond they have with their dogs. These are the clients who keep us going and the ones we must remember when our energy is running low.
Being a trainer or behaviourist also requires constant problem solving. We may plan to teach a set of exercises in a particular lesson, but find that for whatever reason that day a few clients or dogs are struggling and are not up to what we had planned. We always have to have plan B (and C & D). We have to adjust our plans according to the dogs and owners that show up that day and we may have to adjust a specific exercise for a particular dog or person who something is just not working for. This requires constant “thinking” on your feet and endless contingency plans. At the same time, we are constantly aware of the expectation of “quick fixes” that many clients have from watching unrealistic “reality” TV shows and the worry that these unrealistic expectations will lead the client to find an aversive trainer, if we don’t “get the job done quickly”, to the ultimate detriment of dog and owner.
We also live with risk: People and dogs are not robots and we cannot control or predict everything they will do in any given situation. While we may be as responsible as possible, people can do silly things – they can ignore our instructions, they can be in denial or they can deliberately misrepresent the nature of their dog’s behaviour problems, putting us and others in class at risk. Dogs are not perfect and any dog, if put in the wrong situation at the wrong time could potentially use aggression to get out of that situation. We can never switch off and take people or dogs’ safety for granted. In some cases we have to make the hard decision that a dog may not be safe to have in a group class and tell people things that they don’t want to hear.
While we may be there to resolve dog behaviour problems, many times in consultations we end up being leaned on as support for the human family. While we are not human psychologists, we often find ourselves exposed to the tough personal problems people are experiencing and absorb a lot of their emotions in trying to help them with their dogs. Often the dog’s problem is a symptom of something greater in the family and we have to carefully and sensitively work within extremely tricky situations to try and help. The difference is that unlike human counsellors, we do not have the support systems in place to “debrief” or receive professional counselling which is mandatory in human equivalent fields. Most of us also do not earn enough to afford the luxury of private counselling on an ongoing basis for this purpose.
Trainers and behaviourists have another burden which many people don’t consider – the burden of perfection in our own lives with our own dogs. While logically we know that no dog is ever going to be perfect, just as we are only human and will never be perfect, many of us feel that we are judged professionally on the behaviour of our own dogs. Many trainers find even minor issues with their own dogs utterly devastating, because they feel their knowledge and experience should have prevented them from ever making any mistake in this area of their lives. When they “fail” in their personal lives with their dogs in any small way, the guilt and embarrassment can be over-whelming.
Finally, the love that we feel for the dogs that we deal with comes at a cost. We go into this profession, because we love and care for dogs – this means that when we see dogs that are not being treated well or who are destined to live miserable lives, because despite our best efforts, people do not take our advice, it haunts us. We feel genuine sadness and it can be hard to walk away and let go.
So, be kind to your trainer. If you are lucky enough to find a science-based, force free trainer who genuinely loves dogs enough to put money, energy and time into getting a proper formal education in the field and to pursue the profession full time, please consider that this is not an easy profession. It is all-consuming, financially unrewarding and emotionally draining, despite the fact that it is our passion. To those golden clients who keep us going and make it all worthwhile, thank you!
This is what it is all about
And this is what it's all about. Even if I'm not a Competition Trainer and competing at Crufts or in IPO trails. Even if im not writing books like some of you keep encouraging me and sat on the sidelines. I'm making a difference to people in the real world. I'm helping families with their Dogs and making their lives happier. I couldn't want anymore from my job 🐶💚🐶
Just a note to say thankyou to those of you who are the "Golden Ones" who totally respect me, my Class, the structure, the need for safety, taking gentle criticism or guidance and for making me laugh when I'm utterly exhausted. So thankyou for spurring me on and making my job so much more enjoyable 🐶
Don't get Embarrassed
It doesn't matter how long it takes so long as you do it. Practice! Don't get embarrassed about what others think. Your having the Dog and the lifestyle that you want. Screw what anyone else thinks. Many people I work with make signs like this. It's a brilliant idea 🐶It doesn't matter how long it takes so long as you do it. Practice! Don't get embarrassed about what others think. Your having the Dog and the lifestyle that you want. Screw what anyone else thinks. Many people I work with make signs like this. It's a brilliant idea 🐶It doesn't matter how long it takes so long as you do it. Practice! Don't get embarrassed about what others think. Your having the Dog and the lifestyle that you want. Screw what anyone else thinks. Many people I work with make signs like this. It's a brilliant idea 🐶It doesn't matter how long it takes so long as you do it. Practice! Don't get embarrassed about what others think. Your having the Dog and the lifestyle that you want. Screw what anyone else thinks. Many people I work with make signs like this. It's a brilliant idea 🐶It doesn't matter how long it takes so long as you do it. Practice! Don't get embarrassed about what others think. Your having the Dog and the lifestyle that you want. Screw what anyone else thinks. Many people I work with make signs like this. It's a brilliant idea 🐶It doesn't matter how long it takes so long as you do it. Practice! Don't get embarrassed about what others think. Your having the Dog and the lifestyle that you want. Screw what anyone else thinks. Many people I work with make signs like this. It's a brilliant idea 🐶
Your Training Journey
Your Training journey with your Dog is your own. Training a Dog is not easy. Training yourself is not easy. Professional Dog Trainers can make it look effortless and easy. We have trained our entire lives with 1000s of Dogs. Your just starting on your journey to Train your own Dog. You have emotions attached to your Training because you love and care about your Dog. Don't bother what other people think or your progress. The fact that you are doing it is so much more than many. Don't measure your progress by other people's. Measure your progress by the happiness of your Dog 🐶
Having a Reactive Dog is hard. Most owners I speak to feel they have failed their Dog when they have resorted to a muzzle. For me with Dogs with a bite history this is sensible. Reducing bite risk and protecting other people and Dogs. The aim is always to take the muzzle away and help the Dog to become non reactive. It's frustrating and hard work having a reactive Dog. It can limit walk choices and going on holiday with the Dog. So many owners become sad and despondent with this. But to the owners who carry on and have carried on. Well done to you for not giving up. Another thing that makes the situation worse is when people don't listen when the owners say my Dog needs space. Please respect someone when they tell you this. They are not being an arse. They are trying to train their Dog and help their Dog. Please don't think because you've seen stuff on TV you know everything because you don't. Your behaviour can result in a bite whether it be you or your own Dog and the Dog having to become muzzled when out in Public by law. Which isn't fair. If you see yellow on a Dog. Or the owner tells you "They need space" please just move along and leave them alone 🐶
5 years on...
It's been 5 years now since Miyagis Dog Training and Behaviourist Servicescame to life. I knew I wanted to help people with their Dogs outside of just friendships. Little did I know another 6 months down the line, I would be doing this full time as my only occupation and running Classes, which have just grown and grown. I had no idea some of the amazing friendships and people I would meet. I had no idea 5 years down the line I would still be doing this. It was hard work in the beginning, it was terrifying, lonely, I began to learn how savage some people could be, I learnt just how cruel social media could be, but I battled on. I have had some amazing people help me to pick myself up and dust myself off to form me into the person and Trainer I am today. I have lost some amazing Clients both human and Canine and that has hurt like hell, but they will always be with me and my fondest memories. I have had the pleasure of working with the most amazing Dogs from so many different backgrounds and in so many different ways. I am achieving what I set out to do. When I get randomly monster hugged from behind in Tescos and past Owners tell me how happy they are with their Dog, it spurs me on. When you shout my name and stop to speak to me and tell me how your getting on, I am truly honoured you take time out of your day to tell me how you are. You all tell me this and for this I am grateful. I have learnt so much and qualified in so much, exploring so many different avenues I knew so little about to then share with you all. I am friends with some of the greatest Dog Trainers who inspire me and support me. A member of PPG and RCDPTand honoured that they have both accepted me and see me as worthy. Little did I know some of you would inspire me so much that MuttsnMischief would be born, to further support our Community and the Dogs and their families within it. It’s been a hard 5 years, it's been tough on my friends who rarely get to see me, it's had some lows, but this is all outweighed by the highs and the support of my friends who know I love doing what I do and love that I am helping people in the only way I know how. Thank you to you all, past, present and future. It truly is a pleasure working with you all.
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