I am a 90%er.

That means I put out content at about a 90% level of “finished”.  If you choose to look for them you’ll find spelling errors, questionable sentences and possibly thoughts that are not fully fleshed out.  You will also find a whole lot of content, released regularly, which allows me to influence those who choose to follow my ideas. When it comes to sheer quantity of content, you won’t have to look hard at all.

Being a 90%er, I can turn out 10 times more content than someone who polishes each piece to perfection, endlessly worried about the appearance or possible misinterpretations of what they are trying to say, or not covering all their bases or or or….

Could I make my content a little better?  Put in a bit more effort here or there? Polish and refine and triple check that spelling?

Sure I could.  So could you.  But should we?

How’s your personal dog training going?  Your dog training business?  That website or blog you’ve been meaning to pull together – is it up and running yet?  Did you ever get around to that presentation you promised to deliver at your local dog club?

If you strive for 100% then you strive for excellence and that is good! But if you hold out for 100% then you will produce….


Well that’s not totally true.  You will produce anxiety and stress and self doubt.  But in terms of what others might glean from what you have to offer?  If you put nothing out then the answer is – nothing.

Get on with it.  Get your dog trained.  Do you best – put out content!  What can you and your dog do?  Show me what you have!  And sure as hell don’t disparage others if you haven’t finished up your own project.

If you want to get better – at anything – you have to put it out there. “It” can be all sorts of things – whatever is in your head.  Take a few hits, revise as you go, and you’ll discover that over time, your overall quality begins to improve.  Strive for 100% and be prepared to accept less – and put it out anyway.

A few years ago I began teaching a dog training concept I called Engagement.  I looked around and saw a weakness in the dog sports community culture regarding creating engagement with their working partners, and I set about a plan to improve the matter.  Then I started to teach it in person and finally, online.

I’m proud of what I accomplished – it was a strong 90% first pass!  Those stages of engagement helped an enormous number of people who were handling their dogs in a manner that did them no favors at all.  At the same time, I can now reflect and see how my choice of words, phrases, examples and emphasis did not necessarily take all of my students where I wanted them to go.

I avoided, resisted and ignored.  A typical 90%er, but my concerns didn’t go away. Indeed, they grew.  So. Now what?

I started to pay attention, watched trends, tested hypothesis and talked to others in the dog community who I respect.  The more I thought about it, the more I came up with modifications to explore.  And that is what I did – explored.  Talked some more.  Experimented, etc.

Next? I put a few ideas into action!  Tested out my theories and saw that my new ideas were…good! An improvement!

If you’d like to join me to learn about new ideas related to Engagement training, join my Acclimation and Engagement 2.0: From Training to competition webinar that will run on Dec 12th at FDSA.

In this webinar, I’ll take Engagement training from the beginning – in a new and improved way.  I’ll address issues I’m seeing that are making me uncomfortable and that are at least partially the result of the way I presented my ideas the first time around.  I’ll offer options for students who have tried but not succeeded at moving from stage 2 to stage 3- they can’t get movement!  I’ll talk about ways to add more structure from dogs who would benefit from such an approach.  I’ll explore the details of taking Engagement training from the training grounds (where dogs can explore and sniff) to the competition ring – which is nothing of the sort! I’ll start to rectify 90% of that remaining 10%.  I won’t get to 100% because there is always room for improvement but it will take me further – and I’m good with that.

You can also listen to an FDSA podcast that I did with Melissa on this topic – released today!  We talk about addressing change in the dog training world, my ideas about Engagement and…a few other random thoughts thrown in for good measure.

Strive to be a 90%er.  Don’t worry about perfection- you’ll get better simply by doing.  Write that blog! Train that dog!  Create that website! Reach out and try something totally new that has kept you at arms distance – for fear of not measuring up.

Frankly, it’s better to to try and struggle than to make excuses and not try at all.  Dare to make change around you – be a 90%er.