Only you can decide what you should learn next!
Today your options are limitless on how and where to gather information about dog training, dog behavior modification, or dog competition. If you want to increase your dog training knowledge, the first step is to decide the general area of knowledge you want to acquire.
Do you want to learn about obedience, agility, dog behavior, etc.? Do you want to learn about a specific topic within the knowledge area? For example, if your knowledge area is agility, you can obtain information on handling cues, course design or analysis or behavior based subjects such as reactivity or drive building. Only you can decide the direction you want to go when expanding your knowledge.
Outline Your Desires
If you want to expand your knowledge to improve your dog training or showing, develop a plan to give yourself a direction. Think about the goals you have for your dog and isolate the areas you need to improve or learn more about. List and organize the skills. Now you have a general plan to begin looking for the information.
Look to the experts
Watch DVDs, read books, consult with experts, and go to seminars that will give you innovated ideas. It’s rare for an idea to come out of nowhere. By constantly seeking ideas, you’ll get them.
Remember, you can learn from other people. Some will teach and propose methods and theories that you will agree with while others will not. You can learn from the positive things as well as from the negative. Go to seminars, listen to podcasts, and read books or magazines that pertain to the subject of your interest. Devote time each day to listen to or read something informative. There are many people that have traveled down the learning path already and that have a vast amount of “hands on” experience.
Work with a teacher if at all possible. Good dog training is about accurate timing and well-practiced mechanical skills. It always helps to have an experienced trainer watch you train. Don’t be embarrassed. We all started somewhere. Teachers are readily available these days through the internet. There are great, reasonably priced online line classes and/or personal training lessons available from wonderful trainers. Who better to help you fine-tune your timing, knowledge and skills?
A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
Book learning is great and very important. But it is no substitute for putting your knowledge into action. Video recording your training sessions helps your to analyze your training and the responses from your dog. Get out there and work with your dog!
Be a hardworking student. When you train be sure to learn from the negative things as well as from the positive ones. Your failures as well as your successes teach you and add direction and methods needed for your improved learning. Keep track of your successes and failures with notes or log books. Remember that sometimes your failures are better “teachers” than your successes.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison
When you find a good idea “collect it”. Don’t rely on your memory, write it down! As you are gathering information, I recommend that you use a diary in which you can write down all the ideas you have gathered from books, seminars, podcasts, DVDs, etc. Over the years these resources will become a significant part of your self-learning and more importantly, it’ll become of great value to your personal library.
The best way to solidify learning is by teaching. Share your knowledge and skills with others. Help your friends or neighbors train their dog. The more you watch and help others, the more you will learn. Watching others helps to improve your timing and problem solving skills. Teaching is a winning way to improve your techniques and timing.
“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
― Phil Collins