Winning and Change and So On...

It is very odd for me to write on this new Blog site. The old Blog site was familiar and comfortable and I was able to pretend I was just writing for a group of friends. This new site, however, feels very exposed and unfamiliar.

New stuff is always hard, which is why we are all so resistant to change. Many of us cannot get past the old theories about dog training, which involve dominance and jerking and so on. There is even a dog training tv show to help dog owners feel like it is okay not to change, and to train like people did when nobody thought too hard about it.

I have been asked several times recently to teach competition obedience classes, and I am having a very hard time mustering up the courage (or stomach) to face the reality of what people do to their dogs in training. You try to helpfully offer different ideas that do not involve jerking and punishing, but change is hard -- even when what we are doing isn't working for us.

Teaching agility is different somehow -- agility seems to bring out the fun in training in a way that isn't as easy in obedience, but that is just as important. Obedience causes otherwise fun and happy people and dogs to suddenly be transformed into some strange, uptight team that seems to have very different ideas about what to do, with the owner wishing not to be embarrassed (since we all know getting embarrassed causes us to lose our birthdays and other very important things -- NOT) and the dog wanting to get out of Dodge, so to speak, because some freak she doesn't recognize is at the end of the leash.

So I like teaching agility a lot BUT it has reminded me of something I find interesting -- how often we are surprised (in most dog sports) that our dogs do not perform as well in new places as they do at home. REALLY?! This is shocking?! I have probably said this before but think about giving a ten minute speech on global warming -- you have it memorized perfectly in your bathroom. You can deliver it flawlessly, with humor and appropriate emphasis and by memory -- in the bathroom, where the audience is you in the mirror.

Okay -- your speech is SO good that we want you to give it to a convention -- only a few hundred people in the audience, and yes, in the audience there are experts in global warming who wish THEY had been chosen to give the speech. Is your speech as good for your new audience as it was for you in the mirror? Not likely.

What would it take for you to be able to deliver the same speech regardless of audience? Obviously it takes a lot more than being perfect at home -- and thinking about the baby steps between home and the big, scary audience is a really critical piece of competing with a dog -- one that we too often forgot to take into consideration...

But one who was ready for competition is Zaida Jamaica from the Glitterati! Here she is getting that major I mentioned a few weeks ago -- that is Val Horney handling her (Val owns Marshall, who is Cadi's dad, and Cadi is Zaida's mom). Congratulations to Zaida's mom, Barb!

Thanks to all who are posting comments and also sending private emails about website/blog content. As a result of feedback, Galen figured out (with help from Pat Long) how to link each of our dogs and the litters directly to their BernerGarde page -- very cool. We will explore having Blog archives on this website -- thanks for that suggestion. We welcome any and all input, although poor Galen is having to be VERY long-suffering in all this, which is the problem with having a nit-picky professor mother/client.

Speaking of Galen, if you have not checked out his website, please do and if you are dorky like me, you will be extremely amused if you click on the Contact button -- how did he even do that?!

I hope your day is going well and if you find yourself in front of an audience, don't follow that advice about imagining everyone in their underwear -- that is just strange and distracting! Instead, just remember they are just like you -- like you in the mirror -- just people with insecurities and strengths and so on -- not scary at all...



by cindy heintzberger on Wed, 08/03/2011 - 09:26

This is so true - I remember how horrified I was when someone told me about the "ear pinch" method!!! I just couldn't believe that someone who loved their dog would try this...

There is a reason YOU have been asked to teach classes :)

by Jennifer Graffunder on Wed, 08/03/2011 - 13:35

I have learned so much from you...think about the impact you could have on others. Some of them may not change their beliefs about training, but some will and that might be worth it!

by Nikki R on Wed, 08/03/2011 - 14:02

HI! Not everyone is a good teacher and when you find one you want to share him/her with EVERYONE! I suspect that is what others are trying to do by asking you to teach. I know if I was there I would be bugging you as well.....wait, I think I am remembering when you lived here and I did do that! :-) It is not always easy to be a teacher....but if you can help anyone or any dog I think it is worth it! I agree with Jennifer and Cindy's posts!

So.....move back to UT and start a class! We will be signed up from the word 'ok'. :-D

by Patty Wellinger on Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:02

I love the new website and thanks for adding the RSS feed! Your posts & photos often make me laugh or think about things in a new way. And I am inspired to try lots of new things with my Berner boy. Thank you for sharing.

by Heidi on Thu, 08/04/2011 - 11:04

The teacher will appear. And that's you! So many times I have been scolded or chastised in the dog world for something I didn't know or was genuinely trying to learn; a generous and good teacher can be hard to find. I know that you are those things naturally, and that by definition you are a teacher, whether in a classroom or in a ring. So I can only encourage you to teach so that dog people like me don't give up on trying things because we are scared to ask for fear of more reprisals. I just hope that my next pup and I get to learn some new things together with you. I never thought I would try agility before I met you, but I really think I might with the next pup. Same with carting. I always assumed I would botch the job, but maybe, just maybe I wouldn't. There might be new tricks in this old girl after all. :-)

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