A friend of mine went to see an in person trainer – an excellent trainer; I know her well. That trainer then recommended a specific exercise to my friend – an exercise that I never do. Indeed, an exercise that I had advised our mutual client not to do when she asked me about it.
My confused friend came back to me – should I do the exercise or not?
Hey, I’m just a trainer with a set of ideas. I think I’m a good trainer and there is logic behind what I say and do but right now I’m not sitting there with you and your dog. I don’t know what the other trainer saw, but I know that she’s an excellent trainer and I trust her. We share a basic philosophy of training that assures me that she will do right by your team. Further, I know that if it comes to pass that the exercise is a poor choice then the trainer will see it and change direction. Indeed, one of my personal hallmarks of a good trainer is the ability to be flexible when the evidence suggests it’s time to try something else.
One of my favorite things about being a dog trainer is how many different directions are available to us. We are not cookie cutters of each other. There is no best way or technique. There are different approaches that have worked for different people. There are techniques that make sense for some dogs and not for others. There are considerations that make sense for some sports and maybe not for others. And sometimes – there’s just a feeling. A feeling that something is going to work out just fine. And it usually does.
I love this! It means that if I know and respect a range of trainers, then I have access to many different approaches! Because someday my favorite approach is not going to work in a specific situation. And the fact that other people are doing different things than I am? How awesome is that?! It means odds are good that I will be able to find a workable solution. I just need to ask my colleagues for help.
If we ever become cookie cutters – all with one “best” approach and no flexibility – our ability to train dogs outside the normal range will diminish significantly. That would be truly unfortunate.
If you refer to a trainer that you know, respect and trust to share your philosophy of training, give them the benefit of the doubt every single time. They have a plan. Follow it! Cherish and nurture diversity. That will allow our field to thrive.