I feel so grateful for to have shared my life with dogs for the majority of time I have been on this planet, and been involved in dog sports for a similar time span.
As you can imagine, owning, being around and spending time with dogs and the world of dogs has had a profound affect on who I am and how I see the world.
So I have chosen to write these forthcoming blogs to share with you some of the biggest lessons I have had. These lesson are applicable to more then just dog Training.
The process of taking on the responsibility of owning a dog and all that comes with it, is for some a mammoth task, especially if you are a first time dog owner, or you have a particularly challenging dog.
I can recall vividly the daunting task of getting our first dog in our home, and realisation how little we knew! How do they know to go out the toilet? How do they know to not pull on a lead? How do they know to come back? And the endless list of questions, are what any unsuspecting newbie dog owner will ask themselves. This was in the days before the internet… so books and other people’s guidance were our only reference.
What is without question, is that we ALL need help. Whether this is to find out how to house train your puppy or get it to a major world championship in your chosen discipline… the journey can’t be a solitary endeavour if you wish to succeed.
So the process of finding and sourcing a network of people to assist you on this, what at times seems a perilous journey, can be challenging.
However it is very much essential.
The phrase ‘It takes a village’ is so appropriate when talking of dogs, ownership, behavioural issues, goals or training.
No one can or needs to do this alone, however being able to discern who are the appropriate ‘villagers’ can be confusing to say the least.
As mentioned, when I first owned a dog, there was no internet in your home, easy access to information 24/7/365 was not a reality. Most of the information came from books, and generally gave guidance on what to do, but not necessarily what to do when the answers or questions weren’t applicable to the content.
Since the invention of the World Wide web, you can ask a question or make a query anywhere, any time and get an answer. However, the internet is awash with advice, videos and tutorials but it can often be a mind field to try and identify which ‘tribe’ to join.
This is sometimes a process of trial and error, and it is not unusual for a inexperienced owner to attend a few options before settling.
The key thing is to look for guidance from people you feel some connection with and who’s ethos, ethics and principles of training and engagement are aligned to yours.
All of us, have a moral and ethical compass that guides us on a daily basis, a internal compass that draws us to the path we should be on. Often external voices, be it literally or figuratively speaking, alter this.
However when it comes to the choice of trainers, methods, choices and philosophy’s we wish to follow with our dogs, we need to utilise this to find our ‘tribe’. Listen to your gut instinct.
The people and social group we surround ourselves with, should serve a purpose on our journey. They should be aligned with who we are, and what we stand for. With Training dogs and behaviour, we need a village of like minded people to help us. Whether this be to provide constructive feedback or to give us a dose of reality and truth. If the ‘tribe’ is aligned with who we are, this will only serve to help us grow and strive closer to our goals.
Allowing toxic negativity into your life will only distract you from your journey. The village should be comprised of those who will uplift you.
Spend the time determining who your villagers are, that connection may be instant, or it may be a worldwide search to find them. But when you do, you’ll know.
Here are some simple yet effective guidelines to help you find your ‘village’.
- Take your time and do your homework. Rushing the process will only act as a reason to compromise, and potentially deter your progress. Often people attend a trainer or class, because if the location but end up following a principal and ethos that doesn’t represent who they want to be. Spending the time researching potential villagers will save you time in the long run.
- Dont be afraid to question what you see, either internally or literally. You have the right to seek affirmation that these villagers are what they say they are, and they have the right to say the relationship won’t work. And thats ok too. Villagers have to be active participants.
- Trust your instinct. Social media, flashy advertising or great marketing should be taken as intended, to grab your attention. But what happens to that attention is your choice. If the feeling isn’t right, move on. There are many more fish in the sea.
- Be prepared to ask for help. Pride comes before a fall. There is no shame in seeking ‘villagers’, it doesn’t detract from your brilliance, just says that you are astute enough to recognise your shortcomings and take steps to rectify them.
- Be your dogs advocate. In the process of sourcing villagers, you may stumble across those who mean well or may not, but there actions can only have an outcome if you allow it, don’t be afraid to speak up. Someone who is worthy of being in your village will hear you and respect your wishes.
- Be open minded. A village takes a diverse group of ‘villagers’, each one uniquely individual. They should share the same purpose, but it’s their individuality that makes them an asset.
- Be open, remain humble… villagers should have your back. Being truthful and taking constructive feedback can hit a nerve, but the right villagers are doing it from a place of love and purpose.
- Having villagers means you are part of the village. It goes both ways. Don’t be a villager who takes and never gives.
- Your villagers represent who you are, so choose wisely. If you don’t like what you see, chances are neither will others when they look at you.
- Accept, you may make mistakes. And its ok. You may convince yourself that you’ve found your tribe, and even follow them when you know it’s not who you are. Let it go. The guilt won’t serve you. Its just another lesson pushing you closer to your true path.
And finally, thanks to all my ‘villagers’… you know who you are 😉
I couldn’t do this without you all!