A look in the Mirror

The other day, a new student came up to me and said he was looking forward to some new techniques and lessons. He had been to another handler, and wasn’t having any success. In fact, he was complaining about the poor results he had been having.

“How much did the lessons cost?” I asked.

“I don’t remember exactly” he replied. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars.”

“Wow,”” I said. “That actually sounds reasonable.”

“What do you mean? Nothing worked.”

“For someone to live at your house, and train your dog 24/7. That sounds like a bargain.”

“Well, he didn’t do that, he just helped me some.”

“The way that you were talking, it sounded like he must have been living with you. He was responsible for all the bad work and behavior.”

The reason I bring this up, is that I think we all need to be reminded that in the long run, we are responsible for our own dogs. We are responsible for their progress, and most certainly, we are responsible for their mistakes. No one else has taken on the accountability of our dogs.

It is very easy to think that your success hinges on the ability of your instructor to guide you through the training process. And some of that is true. But in the end, you are still the one that is responsible for making the decisions, doing the work, and carrying through with a plan.

If you can’t seem to follow the plan of your instructor, find another instructor. Your success hinges on the strategy that you have found an instructor that can fit both you and your dogs needs.

Sometimes, when I attend a trial. I get to hear about the run through excuses. If I know the dog and individual, many times I find the people are not being honest with themselves. They haven’t trained for the competition, so why should the dog perform well during the competition. Most of the time, I find that most people don’t expect enough out of their dogs and themselves.

It is very easy to get stuck in the excuse circle. Finding reasons to blame responsibility on everyone except ourselves. When we get defensive about our failure, we then lack the ability to really see the main reasons or causes of our failure. We need to honestly look at where the blame needs to go. Usually it is on ourselves. Did I not practice enough? Did I not go to new places and work different sheep? Was I not aggressive in my handling and let my dog get away from me? What can I do to make my dog and my self a success?

If you are doing well, congratulations. But if you are stuck, or not achieving the success that you desire, look in the mirror. It might just give you a glimpse of the person who needs to work smarter to attain success.