I have numerous roles within the heading of being a professional dog trainer and sports dog coach.
I am teacher, there to educate people on how to train their dogs. To inform, inspire, enlighten and create the desire within my pupils to follow me on this
I am a coach, there to mentor, support, build confidence, guide and nurture my students to get the best out of their dogs. This is different to the role of teacher.
These are the main roles I have, however there are many roles within these.
I am chief butt kicker, on occasion… I am the therapist and shoulder to cry on when needed, the confidante, the deliverer of truth and honesty and also a friend.
These are some of the roles, that I fulfil.
But the key to me being able to complete the role successfully, and to the best of my ability is having a pupil/student/client that is receptive to the information.
This doesn’t mean a ‘yeh but, no but’ person, someone who doesn’t ‘want’ to hear what I have to say. This is totally different. It wouldn’t matter what I said or anyone else for that matter, they don’t want to listen. And thats ok. Everyone is on their own journey, and its not for me to ‘tell’ them they ‘have to’ listen to me.
I am referring to the person ‘ready’ to hear what I have to say, and willing but they aren’t ready to action on it, or implement what I’ve suggested.
This is the biggest frustration for students and clients I teach and help.
That readiness may be dependent on skill level, where they are at as a trainer/owner etc. We have all been there. When you first take a step on the path that is dog training, sometimes you won’t be ‘ready’ for that element, trusting your coach to call it is part of the process. I will often overlook something with a pupil, as it’s not relevant for where they are at.
It may be down to their dogs readiness, age, previous history, re-Training, breed etc. The dog may have a over riding issue that supersedes the short term goal. This may be choosing to expose your dog to a situation or environment as they may not be ready.
It may be down to their own ‘stuff’. They may not be quite ready to embrace what I have suggested, and thats ok. It may be scepticism or not quite ‘believing’, or we haven’t built up enough trust. Or they may revert back to what they have previously done.
The defining factor as to whether I can really ‘help’, isn’t actually about them, or the dog. It’s actually about me.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt as a professional dog trainer, coach and someone that deals with behavioural issues is learning to align myself with the goals and objectives of the person I am working with. My goals are secondary to theirs. This may sound obvious, but the ego is a powerful thing and often gets in the way.
My goals aren’t their goals, and their goals aren’t my goals. My role is to align myself with what THEY want, and what THEY can do. Its not about the perfect picture or even the ideal end result. Its about facilitating what the person wants to achieve.
This may be a world class competition dog, and win major championships. Great, I can do that and have had pupils do exactly that.
Or their goal may be to have a dog that doesn’t bite people. Great I can do that, and I have helped numerous people achieve that precise goal.
Or it might simply be that they want a dog with a recall, and I’ve helped them achieve that goal too.
But the reason I have been able to do so, is because I understood what THEY wanted.
I may look at the dog, and see the magnitude of potential the dog has, but if thats not the persons goal, I have to let it go.
The other side of the coin, is when their goals don’t align with my beliefs. And the pill to swallow, is that I can’t help them and thats ok to.
The biggest realisation is that you can’t help EVERYONE. And its ok.
Thinking you can, will only leave you feeling a sense of failure or being overwhelmed.
Sometimes the hardest thing to accept is that you can’t help someone, not because you don’t have skills or knowledge, but because your goals and their goals are either not aligned or they are ready. And thats ok.
As a professional who feels passionate about my role, it was an early struggle that took a lot of understanding. Early in my career, my ego led me to believe that ‘I’ could help everyone, whether they wanted it or not. I can’t, its ok. Its not about me, it’s about them.
The reassuring thing to know, is that sometimes allowing someone the space to follow their own journey will bring them back to your path, if even via the scenic route…. everything happens just as it should, and trusting this can be an empowering lesson for any one embarking on a career where they want to genuinely help others.