Let's Talk About Pressure


Today, our hosts Stacy, Crystal, and Robin pick up where they last left off with their prior conversation about fluency. They discuss what it takes for a team to grow past the first two of the three stages of dog training mastery, namely competency followed by proficiency.

The road to true fluency begins once a trainer or handler realizes and embraces the fact that “you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know that you don’t know it.” One can’t grow in a vacuum. Our hosts encourage everyone to find the right group of fellow trainers who can guide them to that next level of mastery.

Trainers ask for a lot of physical and mental maturity out of our dogs for them to go out and do the job that they’re going to do. Yet, they have to deal with pressure from multiple sources to meet certain demands in a limited window of time, including financial limitations as well as expectations from one’s agency.

An important factor to consider, then, when looking to buy a working dog, is to find a courageous puppy ripe for development into a confident and versatile adult. From there, it is vital that a trainer develop a progression plan—a roadmap—as a visual to help the dog get from point A to point B.

Ultimately, always stay in pursuit of excellence. Take the time to reflect on each stage of training with your dog and be willing to tweak your method as you both progress. “If your dog was happy, engaged, and successful, that’s pretty darn close to fluency for whatever you’re doing.”

Key Topics:

  • How a trainer or handler can know whether they have reached fluency (2:17)

  • Escaping the habit of “good enough” (4:30)

  • Gaining a holistic view of your dog’s progress as well as your progress as a handler (6:53)

  • Becoming aware of your training philosophy/framework… and their limitations (12:28)

  • Teaching your dogs that stuff can be anywhere (23:57)

  • Dealing with pressure (25:00)

  • “Just because they can doesn’t mean they should.” (29:29)

  • Training a dog to be versatile (31:44)

  • The pressure of rehoming a dog (42:54)

  • The importance of having a progression plan in place (49:14)

  • Evaluating your training through reflection (52:25)


Resources mentioned in this episode:

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