Although we might not think it at times, we are surrounded with resources – people, books, articles, videos – that can help us with something we are working on. Often we come up to a “wall” in our training that we have difficulty getting around.
So much time and energy gets put into solving these training-puzzles, when our questions could be answered in less than 10 minutes if we simply asked. Everyone who knows me and has heard me talk about my animal training “style”, knows that I really believe in learning things yourself. Although I had a few informal horse lessons as a teenager, everything else is self taught. My dog, Mowgli, taught me most all that I know about dog training (along with all the dogs I have trained since him) and what I know about working with horses all came from experience and putting all that I simply heard and/or saw to practice on my own.
“Everything I have learned about the horse, I have learned from the horse.”
– Tom Dorrance
So once we have acknowledged that, we can say, “Okay, I will try my best to get as far as I can get on my own. I will think situations through, attempt to figure them out myself and observe the results. But if I am not moving forward, I will turn to one of the resources offered to me. “
This is an important point in our journey with animals. It’s that balance between self-reliance and not being afraid to ask for help, suggestions or tips. Then, keep in mind one more thing: not everyone who says something with confidence is correct. You could search something on YouTube and get a video tutorial that is completely wrong. You might search “How can I get my dog to heel”. One person will tell you to yell at your dog to “HEEL!!!!” while hitting him on the head with a heavy wooden board. Others might tell you to never, ever correct your dog and only give him the best cookies for his efforts.
Neither are the correct approach (in my opinion) and everything we hear from other animal trainers or owners, needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a whole bathtub full of common sense. I wanted to write this post to hopefully open your eyes to the wealth of knowledge all around you, waiting to be discovered. There is no need to get stuck on a problem and limit yourself, when a helping hand is a minute away, ready to show you how to improve.