It’s been a bit on the Newbie’s Guide, but I (and some others around me) have been working through some things recently that I’m thinking it might be time to share, as it may save some heartache for someone else down the road…
This is really more of a personal perspective than a “guide” post, so take that for what it’s worth.
I’ve written before about how important it is to advocate for your dog while training.
In my previous post on the subject, I was really talking about preventing bad things from happening. Things like not handing control of your dog over to someone you don’t know, not taking risks with your dog without understanding those risks, etc…
Part two on this subject is going to be about things that are a little less overt, but are just as important.
As I’ve been on this crazy IPO journey, I’ve grown a lot as a dog owner and a handler. I’ve had to really think about and adjust and be very engaged with the whole process.
And, about nine months ago, I started to realize that Brody and I’s education was no longer going forward.
To be completely honest, this realization planted some seeds of resentment, but what I ultimately came to realize was that this was entirely within my control.
My journey is my responsibility and I could no longer rely on the guidance of others.
And so I started to seek new learning opportunities.
I reached out to neighboring clubs and I started making plans to travel more.
And Brody and I’s progress started forward again.
And, eventually, I made the decision to make a permanent club change.
This realization and ultimate change did not come without a cost to some personal relationships, unfortunately. And that’s the part that I think is hard for a lot of people. It certainly has been for me.
However – and this is the important part – the decision to change clubs was in the best interest of myself and my dog.
As newbies, we are at the mercy of those more knowledgeable around us. We don’t know what we don’t know, and that places us at a disadvantage.
And it can be too easy, in this sport, to place responsibility on others. On your Training Director. On your Helper. On the other handlers around you.
But, my dear newbie, what you need to realize is that the responsibility is yours and yours alone.
You have to advocate for yourself and your dog, no matter what those around you may say or think.
For me, it came down to this:
My progress toward my goals had stalled and I realized that it was time to move on.
Up to that point, I had received nothing but excellent training and guidance, so this is not to say that anything “wrong” was done.
It was just time to move on.
To seek new knowledge and perspectives.
I’ve been very fortunate in my IPO journey, thus far, to have so many people invested in my progress and success. But I’ve come to realize that it isn’t fair to lean on those people so hard that I come to rely on them for any and all forward progress.
I’ve said it before, that IPO is team sport, and I still really believe that.
But it is also a journey between you and your dog. And it’s ultimately up to you if that journey takes you to the places that you want to go.
So, fellow newbies, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. To explore new ideas and new perspectives. And don’t be afraid to make the changes you feel are necessary for yourself and for your dog. Your success or failure is dependent entirely on you!