All Roads Lead to Rome
This post is largely inspired by something I read on Church Mount Sheepdogs Facebook but it is an idea I've been trying to find a way to communicate. I have this idea that most people are training the same thing. We're even doing it in largely the same way. I mean there are only so many ways to manipulate the instincts of these dogs to have success in herding. Think of it like painting. Everyone is using paint and a canvas. What changes is the nuances of the method and the goals of the finished product. It's why new people have a hard time nailing down how to train a dog from experienced trainers. It's also the reason why experienced trainers HATE when someone says "well I was told to do it that way and not that other way." Now I am interested in what another trainer tried but don't assume that's the only way of doing it. It goes without saying that every dog is different. As such, every dog requires its own type of training. Yet what most people forget is that's only part of it. Every person is also different. A lot of trainers know this but they often don't apply it to their training. I've heard people say "well he works way different for me than my husband." Or whatever that scenario is. That is key knowledge. If you realize that your dog works different for different people then it's silly to try and work your dog like anything except as yourself. Understand that if the dog looks worse with you then there's a dog that look better with you. It's up to you to have the wisdom to notice the difference. Yet before you write that dog off as not suiting you, try doing a different method. That dog might suit YOU fine, it just doesn't suit who you're trying to be. So that brings it back full circle. All roads lead to Rome. In dogs that means that all trainers are trying to get the same thing. A dog that can best assist them in the task of stock handling. Yet virtually none of us will get there the same way. And that's not just ok but that's liberating. That means you can find exactly your style and mold it around the dog that is presented. With each dog being it's own unique puzzle. I wish I knew this at the beginning. I felt so insecure that I was training wrong at the beginning. I would hear people tell me "that never works" or something similar. I now know that it meant that it never worked for them. Embrace what works for you, whatever that is. Abandon what doesn't, no matter what anyone says. At the end of the day, we're all going to the same place.