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  • Writer's picturekier scott

Problems VS Symptoms

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Something I was taught awhile ago is that you have to look at things in your life that effect you negatively as either problems or symptoms of a problem. I'll give an example, you have no money, now this can be by choice (like you decided to be a stock dog trainer) or it can be a true problem in your life. The thing is, the lack of money is simply a symptom of a greater problem. The true problem you have is far more complicated then that. You could have a weak work ethic, poor spending habits, an inability to take risks or you're at a job that undervalues you (I know that's a oversimplification of that issue). This same philosophy is huge in dog training. The best example is probably biting. Biting in and of itself is not a problem. It is almost always a symptom of a larger issue. Biting can normally mean that the dog has some sort of anxiety that they don't know how else to express. Now I'm not talking about fair shots (like biting a nose of fighting stock), I'm talking about those cheap shots we all know and detest. Those fly by rib shots or those high leg hamstring shots. So you could correct the biting but the real problem is either their anxiety or their lack of desire to be a good stockman. If you worry less about the biting and correct those route issues, typically the biting resolves itself. Of course that just an example. There are a plethora of examples where the same logic can be applied. Yet it all comes back to the same thing. We as people always look at outcomes as the main problem without putting any thought into what caused it in the first place. Whether it's dogs or people, those problems are normally internal. We have to be reflective of ourselves and of our dogs to see why behaviours are happening. Then we have to ask ourselves if we can fix it. Because there will be problems that we aren't adapt to change or that are fundamental to who we are or to who the dog is. That's another reason we have to choose dogs that compliment our strengths and smooth over our weaknesses as a trainer. And never be afraid to ask advice. The sum knowledge of dog training lies in the community, not the individual. Ask around and mine the knowledge of the community around you. More after than not you can at least be pointed in the right direction. Just remember, fighting symptoms is much like ripping leaves from a weed and never taking the root.

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