Ponderings of an old Dog Trainer

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If you have a strong desire to be a great to superb dog handler or perhaps a dog trainer one day – here are  five traits you must either inhabit or cultivate.  There are probably many more, but this is what came to me in a flash
A. Willingness to find a teacher that you listen to wholeheartedly without wanting to interrupt. Questioning is great! I have found that regular interruption is a whole different energy and negates the process of learning
B. Practice practice practice. Mind body connection with leash and with the dog is not an easy feat. Daily practice – make it a hobby, a ritual, a consistent habit -you go to every day. Make it become your meditation that you truly look forward to and not just look at as a task to complete
C. Put aside you past and preconceived notions about how good you were with your old family dog , how much you learned elsewhere, how much you have read online …and start with a fresh clear attitude, especially when working with a brand new trainer. We all come with some foundation. We all come with an attitude that wants to prove to someone else how much we know about dogs.  
Come from the Student Mind and truly listen. Be very present, even if in your lesson you don’t think it resonates with you or applies to your dog- put aside your assumptions and listen anyways. I would listen to my teacher Alon. He might repeat something I’d heard 100 times the week before – but the way he said it and how he connected it to a brand new dog – it was always, without question, an aha moment ,every moment. It’s rare for me to find students that take in this kind of knowledge this way.. and when I see them truly listening – I say to myself – they are meant to work with dogs

Otherwise ,The ego gets in the way.

D. Work with dogs that are easy first. I can’t express enough how hard it will be to easily develop an excellent mind-body skill set on leash with a reactive strong dog. . Or if you can’t find a calm dog to work with, because your dog IS reactive- work first in the quietest of Settings. You must HONE your skills in areas and with dogs that quiet your mind before you can go in to the loud world. Too quickly can ruin the learning, leave you overwhelmed and judging the dog wrongly.
E. At the same time – after you have practiced for many months, with a solid trainer behind you.
–It is time to  RECOGNIZE YOUR STRENGTHS AND ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS .

Not everyone is meant to be a superstar dog handler or expert trainer . Not everyone has the timing, presence, intuition. Find where you excel -When you walk with the dog down the street with your personal skill set ,and it makes you truly connected to him – stay there for a while. That’s your sweet spot. Relish in this moment 🙏
Kathy Kear