Being the student vs being the teacher

I’ve had a few people express a wish to be a dog trainer over the years, but mostly it appeared to be a magical wish. Voila! But expertise is never like that.

Actually, anybody who has contact with a dog is a trainer – just like you, dogs are constantly learning from each interaction. Of course, what they meant was to be really competent, which takes constant learning from others and lots of practice. You want to be able to flow – to be able to read the situation and go. To be able to have immediate options – to go right on to the next step whatever the results of the last step was and not need to knock your head into a wall.

Gateway or barricade?
Gateway or barricade?

My problem is I like being a student when someone has something complex to teach. How do you balance being a student with being a teacher? How much is too much time spent learning how others do things instead of just doing things? The just do it attitude, the creativity and $ that result is important, really important, but so is finding mentors and new perspectives that might not occur in your own backyard.

And how many things is it reasonable to join or be certified in? It’s a cost/benefit question I guess.

I just re-signed up for Puppy Peaks  – Susan Garrett’s prolonged web-based dog training class (yes, I did it once before) and I am going to a kennel club’s classes (30 miles away) on Monday nights for the next six weeks. These are big time commitments and they mean I won’t be making money training somebody elses dogs during those time periods. I’m also awaiting notification from AKC about taking the CGC evaluator test.

Scout waiting for his next training session in the beautiful fall sunlight.
Scout waiting for his next training session in the beautiful fall sunlight.

Supposedly women are more likely to get extra education, certifications, read the directions and be paid less for their lifetime. Am I falling into a cultural pattern, aka trap? Maybe I already know enough, have enough and should be satisfied.

Wishing to be somewhere else.
Wishing to be somewhere else.

So why am I waffling on this? There is a finite amount of time and $ available and sometimes it seems like it’s already all used. But the season of darkness (fall/winter) is encroaching and what I have scheduled myself for uses that darkness time. And pretty soon the apples will be picked and the garden put to bed – I’ll have the time.

Reggie - hauling around big things isn't a problem.
Reggie – hauling around big things isn’t a problem.

Today on the just do it side: 1) Scout (horse) and I practiced him picking up his jolly ball and bringing it toward me – not to me yet; and then he accomplished a much better two feet up on the log drum; and then there was trailer desensitization – he’s developed a fear of being left in there that we’re working on eliminating. 2) Reggie (Jack Russell) worked on kennel up at speed, still getting him to like his crate with a capital L, he knows how to haul the horse’s green jolly ball to me already – maybe I should shove that into his crate; and improving tug especially the release part. 3) Jazzie (heeler) worked on sit pretty duration – she’s up to 20 seconds, also did some practice on the end of the teeter riding it down. 4) Smokey (cat) added a hoop to jump through on his jump between bar chairs. The hoop is now real close to his takeoff point so it’s easy for him to not worry about, since he’s jumping over the Jack Russell I think he’s pretty good at ignoring stuff.

It's the question of whether it's a good idea to haul them.
It’s the question of whether it’s a good idea to carry the load.

I’ve already got new and ongoing learning/training in motion, pretty much always do, but I’m sure it could be better, faster, more organized, videos for extra credit – somebody else probably wants a bar-stool hoop-jumping cat, a crate happy pooch, a balancing dog and an elephant trick horse.

When it finally comes down, it’s important to always be learning and always be a student. And to put that knowledge into practice and create a family (I’m counting the critters in this terminology) circus of thrills and fun under whatever big top is available. Even if the extra knowledge isn’t as marketable as it should be … I can juggle.

Do you struggle with the idea of needing more knowledge – more experience? Is it just that there is so much more out there to learn or does it feel like a delaying tactic?


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