My last blog stirred up a bit controversy.
Wait a sec. Let me rephrase that.
My last blog made some people so angry that I was worried for their physical health. In short – because I said there is no ‘have to’ in competition. You get what you get based on the training you put in.
And the reason people got so angry? It’s not likely that it was caused by my words. I was pretty clear that neither adding cookies nor corrections would increase reliability – better training would.
So what happened?
People are hyper sensitized right now because there is a split between the people who…..
Wait a sec. What is the split? What are we arguing about?
We are arguing about words. The vagaries of language.
We can’t say balanced because that word has lost any and all meaning. It covers me (because I may use a cheerful interrupter when my dogs make an error) and it covers the most extreme shock level trainers, (because when the dog succeeds they remove the shock and say “good dog.”) And it surely doesn’t mean ‘middle’ (because no one I know actually strives for that.)
We can’t say force free (because I’ve told my dogs “no” so I don’t qualify.)
We can’t say purely positive because…I object! I don’t think it exists, so I’m uncomfortable with it.
What most balanced trainers mean is that they use the appropriate method for the given dog at the given time. Or at least that’s what I think it means.
While that statement sounds awesome, it’s equally meaningless because each of us has radically different ideas of what that might mean. What is appropriate and at what time? What is appropriate to one person is appalling to another.
So, to help people make sense of it all, I have a suggestion.
Why not just start a blog? If you’re a trainer, start a blog and post unedited videos of your training sessions when you feel like it. You don’t even have to add words if that’s not your thing. Just show what you mean. How do you teach something? What does your session look like?
No, you won’t be giving away all of your special training secrets. You could train a dog off my blog and it hasn’t hurt my business. We’re in the age of information sharing – hoarding is a poor business strategy these days.
No, this is not time consuming. Turning on a video camera once or twice a month is nothing. I mean, if you have time to argue on Facebook over meaningless words, then you have time to turn on a video camera and upload unedited footage. One less argument means one more video. And one more video might just mean one less argument.
People can watch. They can decide through their own observations what they like and what they don’t. What they want to try and what does not work for them. What seminars they want to attend. What trainer demeanors resonate for them. What seems logical and what seems…not so much.
To say that words are failing us right now would be a pretty serious understatement. So forget the words – and forget edited videos and only finished performances. Show the process; the whole thing. Assuming you are comfortable with how you teach, which I believe most people are, then showing unedited videos should be fine.
Then it all becomes very simple. People can look at the process. Look at the dog and look at the trainer. Then they look at the end results and decide what they want to do, who they want to see in person, and maybe even clarify their own training program. No surprises. Everyone benefits.
And if in the process of making your videos, you realize that you’re not too comfortable showing your sessions to the public…think about that too. If it’s your training, then own it. You don’t need to make excuses or explain anything to anyone. Stand behind it or change your behavior.
There is no downside. If you don’t want negative feedback just turn off the comments. People say they are constantly misunderstood – here’s the solution. When people aren’t sure what I mean by “force free” I simply point them to my blog. Then they know what the words mean to me. They can like or not like it. They can have a different vision of what force free means. It’s irrelevant. We can speak the same language.
Now, when someone starts to use words like ‘balanced’ or ‘force free’, ask them to show you their blog. No more arguing over words. Discuss videos. Not to “prove” anything but so that you can be speaking the same language.
If the first thing that pops into your head is all of the reasons why you can’t do this then think about that. I presume you want to be understood, right? So make yourself understood. Show people what you mean.
That’s my challenge for 2016. More videos. Less words. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Go for it.