Monday, October 22, 2012

Question the differences!

I know that anyone who teaches agility can relate to what I am about to say...

I know that all of us are guilty of this at some point...

I am being asked more and more how I trained something or wondering how to fix some undesired behavior.  I don't mind these questions at all and as a matter of fact I love to talk about dog training.  There is always more to learn about the theory of it, and always more to learn about the practical side of it.

I assume that they are asking me because they saw something in my dog's performance that was a behavior they would like to have in their own dog, or somehow along the way I have made enough of an impression that they believe I might have the answer they are seeking.

I find it interesting however, that in most cases I hear rather quickly "but I have done that", or "it doesn't happen at home (or class)".  I believe everyone who says it, truly I do!  But what I doubt is that their attention to detail or that their self critique skills on this issue are up to par.  And, those things are OK.  Learning is a life long process and WE ALL are getting better and better as we spend time doing it.

What I rarely hear in my conversations are the questions from that same person trying to determine the differences in my method and theirs.  There is truth in the saying "The devil is in the details".  And the details are what really matters in dog training, and even more in retraining. 

At first this type of interaction frustrated me.  But slowly I am teaching myself how to react positively to these interactions and also how to thoughtfully question the person before any advice or information is handed out.  I am learning that if I can put the information in a better context, perhaps I can prevent the wrong conclusion, such as "I have already done that".

So, as we all try to be better students and teachers we need to remember to question the differences.  When you ask how to train something, generally you are problem solving.  When problem solving the general assumption is accurate, "There is a difference between our methods, we just need to figure out what it is".  It is those differences that lead us to our greatest incites on how to solve the problem.