It is OK to Change Your Mind!

It’s OK to Change Your Mind

It is my personal view that there is a strong correlation between people who seek education, further learning and new experiences and positive open mindedness and that there is also a strong correlation between those who do not seek education, new experiences and closed mindedness. By education I mean experiences, meeting new people, trying something new, trying a new way of doing something and learning more. I do not mean education from a purely academic point of view.

Why is it so difficult to say I have changed my mind, I have learned something new today and based on that new information I have changed my mind and would like to do things differently from now on? This is a perfectly reasonable and human thing to do. I wonder why some people are so closed off and feel that attending a Seminar, Conference, Training Course or seeking further education is an admittance of lack of knowledge or a sign of weakness, that they somehow are meant to know it all and turning up to such an event may signal that they don’t know it all.  

I can honestly say that have never regretted attending any Seminar, training session, discussion group or course. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone even if this means attending something that you may feel uncomfortable about. I feel uncomfortable about +P training but I have been to events where aversive style training is taking place and a considerable amount of + P but that does not mean I won’t take something important away from that experience. Sure I find it hard to keep my mouth closed and I won’t tolerate downright abuse of any animal but I still put myself out there, why? Because I feel it helps me to be a better trainer and a better person. I do not want to remain ignorant on those topics that cause me discomfort. If I remain ignorant then I have no right condemning or commenting on such actions as +P training. If I become educated then I can give an educated informed opinion with sufficient backup as to why I feel +P training is not acceptable. I can then demonstrate a better way of doing things. Maybe someone will spot how my dog works with me and like the relationship or results, maybe they will wonder how I do that without correction and notice me using a clicker and treats.

I can’t change the world and believe me I get tired of seeing the dog listeners, whisperers and correctors on TV but I still watch and learn, yes I learn what not to do and the effects of getting it wrong. There are generally some excellent demonstrations of effective timing and the application of the punisher and its effectiveness. I use these TV clips to show our Interns, trainees and new staff how stress, flooding and correction affects a dog.

We can see the +R trained dogs winning at competitions, happy stress free and willing to work and listen to their owners. We can see the difference in body language displayed by the dog trained using +R. We can critically evaluate what method works best and it becomes easy to spot the dogs trained using +R over the dogs who are trained using +P which is a nice skill to build up.

Vets, Trainers, Behaviourists and Animal Care workers need to become a little more open minded. Don’t get bogged down with what goes on in TV world, don’t let the marketing and PR manipulate your view; go with your gut feeling. If it doesn’t feel right maybe it is not right. Does that mean that use +R trainers need to become more open minded as well? I think so, I think we need to try and find some good in all training even the stuff that we don’t like. Sometimes this means a harsh trainer getting a deserved nip from a dog and learning that correction does not always mean results.

Science is science +R and +P will produce certain results and behaviours that’s fact but we can use experiences to learn and grow. I think this is what separates the true trainers from those who will always be stuck in the bad old training days!