Facebook reminds me of a sludge filled river running thru a major metropolitan city. It’s muddy (usually), and there’s always unspeakable flotsam and jetsam being swept past us. Yet, we keep looking at it, as though it was worth the time we invest. As though much of that quagmire had real value. That’s not an accusation, as I am equally guilty of the sin of spending more time there than I should. The hamartia of distraction…(Look it up. Use it in a sentence this week)
But in defense of watching social media, it does occasionally provide fodder for the libertine journalist to put pixel to page and produce something readable. At least to some…One such chunk of detritus floated my way this week, and it set off this latest post.
The Facebook post displayed proudly that the author had selected “The Ten Best Dog Trainers” working today. I won’t bore you, (or enrage you), with my thoughts on the individuals selected for this title. ( Except for this: Zac George? Are you kidding me?) But I digress. My real point of contention with this article is simple: Why do we consume so much mental energy in deciding such inane and superfluous garbage? I strongly suspect that such articles are written by non-professionals in the dog-training world. People with other agendas at hand…The list reads like a pantheon of Purely Positive demi-gods, which is not unexpected. However, and this is a BIG however, such an article could also have been written, and alternate individuals selected, by followers of Koehler methods, or e-collar disciples, or Balanced Training aficionados, or Clicker-trainers, Natural Dog Trainers or whatever other type of methodology is employed. These silly arguments have been going strong since an unknown illegal alien crossed the Mexico/United States border, and built his own empire of dog-training and behavioral work. The firestorm of disapproval, often approaching the level of outright threats, was unprecedented. And with that, battle lines formed in earnest.
I won’t recount the last 10 years of dog-training methodology squabbling and enmity. We are all familiar with it. Many of us are sick of it. At this point, I rather hear more about Bruce Jenner and his train-wreck of a life.
Let me instead, give you my humble opinion of what’s really important. It applies to Professional trainers, Professional Handlers, Home Grown Trainers, Bite Sports enthusiasts, Agility and Flyball participants and Aunt Ethel and her pet Havanese/Boxer mix. If you own a dog, (or, for the PC amongst us) if a dog lives with you, this applies to you. And Me.
The Most Important Trainer Is You.
The most important dog is the one that you are responsible for currently. Ask yourself, “What have I done, or am I doing, to make this dogs’ life happy and safe?” Do I make any effort to improve my ability at training my dog? Have I worked with a trainer that I personally respect and trust to accomplish those things? If you have the confidence in your own skills, do you take the time, every day, to work/play with your dog for his benefit?
Human beings seem overly impressed by “Who Is The Best?”, in every facet of life. Competition to prove who is best, consumes our society. Athletics, Business, Entertainment, Media, and many other activities find ways to rate who or what “Is The Best”. The subject is pervasive, and in many cases, Pure Poison.
I submit that the dogs have paid the biggest price in this debacle. And that the Dog-Training Profession has paid an equally large price. Many spend more time worrying about who the best trainer is or which method is the best, and in doing so, the dog waiting in front of us waits longingly for us to do something useful. Some are not content to merely develop their own skills in training, but determine that those we disagree with must be exposed as “Mis-guided”, “Unprofessional”, “Cruel”, or whatever other description most effectively takes away their standing. Such Futility and Foolishness.
Quit worrying about who the Best trainers are. Become the Best Trainer for YOUR dog. Become the Best Trainer for your clients dog. Be a willing learner of Trainers that You admire, use the techniques that they teach that fit with the dog in front of you at the moment. Be Willing to Learn and Employ Alternative Methods that may help at the moment. Stop fighting over what specific method you prefer, and Focus on the Method that Best Serves The Dog In Front of You.