"Properly trained, man can be a dog's best friend" ~ Corey Ford
Yesterday, I was in a local restaurant to buy some lunch and the cashier asked me about my day and what I did for a living. And as I replied, I am a dog trainer, he asked me a very interesting question: "What is the one thing, you wished people know about dogs and dog training...if you could sum it into just one sentence?"
And without thinking, I quickly replied:" I wish people would realize, that they don't know anything".
I quickly followed this up with..." well, at least they don't know enough!"
It might sound a bit harsh, so I want to quickly elaborate on this, because the last thing I want to sound as is a snob, or someone who thinks she is better than everybody else...I know I am not. My Danish upbringing made sure of this (look up "jantelov" or Law of Jante" if in doubt about this statement...lol)
The point I wanted to make was, that if we - the dog handlers/owners - would realize we don't know everything, and that in fact we have a lot to learn ABOUT our dogs FROM our dogs, we would be much better owners. By acknowledging, we don't know enough, we can keep ourselves humble and keep our minds open to receive new information and knowledge.
And even though this can be a very frustrating state of mind sometimes ( believe me, I know!), it is also where you will grow and understand, that us human beings are indeed very ignorant, when we believe, that we are "smarter and more intelligent " than animals.
The saying: "Ignorance is a bliss" is definitely true to some point. But the question that remains is this: Is it still a bliss, when it involves another specie, which you have taken into your household, but failed to try and understand? If your lack of knowledge leads to confusion and emotional distress to another specie, is it still a bliss? If your ignorance leads to physical and/or emotional abuse and distress in the name of training, is it then still a bliss?
If we are so intelligent, as most of us would like to believe, why can't we see, that we still have a lot to learn? Isn't life in itself just one long journey of learning?
After 10 years ( and counting) of working with dogs as a certified trainer, I still know that I don't know enough. Each dog that comes through my door will teach me something new. And my biggest fear as a trainer is, that I some day will forget this and no longer listen to the dogs with an open mind. That I instead will start to assume that I know what this dog needs. Because that is the day, I will fail you and your dog and even my own dogs. I am aware of this pitfall. And I hope, that I will always remember this.
But for now, I can promise you this: If you allow yourself to have an open mind, and understand that YOU are the student, that will need to learn from your dog
(or other pet you might have), you will find yourself in the presence of the best damn mentor you will ever meet.
As a dog trainer and animal lover, my wish is to help educate the owners, so they can have a harmonious relationship with the animal(s) in their lives. A relationship based on knowledge, trust and respect.