Filling Up Your Tool Box

Bridget poses in front of a tool box

Kelly Dunbar, in a recent post, alluded to effective and ongoing use of training tools, to prevent deteriorating doggy behavior. What a great reminder for all of us who are owned by dogs. One of my personal goals as a dog training professional is to keep filling up the tool box. Oh, I often think: “if I only knew then what I know now.” Fast forward five years and yes, I will be thinking the same thing. You see, we are always adding new tools to the box, as part and parcel of our trade. Only ever hire a dog trainer whose education is ongoing. My toolbox was distressingly empty prior to Pat Miller and the launch of my career. As green as grass was I, a Level 1 Instructor Intern in 2003. Prior to the Instructors course I am embarrassed to admit, a dog training book had never occupied shelf space in my home. The knowledge and foundation I acquired with Pat Miller were the very first tools of my trade.

Effective dog trainers realize that no two dogs are the same, and have at their disposal a tool box that is just brimming with knowledge and ideas. One fearful dog might respond to Counter Conditioning and Desensitization, while yet another might respond to BAT (behavior adjustment training). Yet another protocol at our disposal is CAT (constructional aggression treatment), the latter of which I have yet to use.  Tellington Touch might be an effective way to reach a cautious canine. Operant Conditioning in the Positive Reinforcement quadrant is usually part of any treatment plan, to improve foundation behaviors. Often our plans contain parts of different training protocols, all towards effecting behavioral change. Clients depend upon us for the tools in our box, that we can recommend products such as Thundershirt, Through A Dogs Ear CD and Comfort Zone.

Turning to the tool box again, any professional must continually add to foundation knowledge, to remain current and effective. Doctors, Nurses, Physical Therapists, Veterinaries, Vet Techs and Dog Trainers, as professionals, (yes we are professionals) are required to attend seminars for ongoing education credits. However, I scarcely know a colleague who, through love of their work, does not go above and beyond what is required. Most of my friends and colleagues fall into the category of life- long learners. Recently, on the Monday evening twitter #barkoutloud discussion (an education in itself) there was discussion of the upcoming Suzanne Clothier seminar in Maryland. Colleagues commented on how fortunate I was to be attending. That level of excitement for education is the norm for those of us in the trade. Myself, I can scarcely await the February date.

Meanwhile, abundant reading is available at the click of a mouse, anytime of the day or night; my many Facebook colleagues produce blogs and articles at an awe inspiring rate.  I could never keep up to the flood of information, but attempt to read and share articles everyday. Filling up the tool box: knowledge is power, abundant ideas and tools make us effective practitioners. Thanks to all who have contributed to my tool box. How will you be filling up your toolbox? I must add that the terrific labbie trio of Bridget Talley and Doobie, have caused me to use all the tools in my box, at some point in time!

Until next time, Leslie and the Labbies