Friday, June 1, 2012

Continued Education

I have been working with dogs professionally for over 28 years and involved in dog training for almost 25 years.  It is frightening to me to think where I would be if I was still doing now what I did all those years ago.  I suppose I could have chalked up all these years of doing things inappropriately and from the dark ages as "experience", but how valuable is experience when you aren't doing the best best for the animals and moving forward in terms of knowledge and skill?    

To me, it is critical that anyone who calls him or herself an "expert" be committed to continued education.  Continued education should include being aware of the most current information available to us, continuing to build and improve our mechanical skills and actual training "chops" and trying to grow and improve in general.  If I, or someone else, is taking someone's hard earned money and presenting myself as an "expert", I darn well better know what I am talking about.  I have a responsibility as a professional to be committed to learning everything I can and most importantly, staying in the loop about new information in regard to how animals learn, training and behavior and new information about dogs in general as it becomes available.

If you want to know if a trainer, behavior consultant, handler, breeder or anyone who presents him or herself as an expert is committed to continued education, ask them the following questions:

What seminars on animal behavior or training have you attended in the last 2 years?

What books have you read in the past 2 years?

What certifications or credentials do you have?  Do those certifications require Continued Education Units?

How do you stay current on the latest in dog training/behavior?

To be involved in dog training and behavior and not be interested in the most current information available to us is irresponsible.  To be presenting oneself as an expert in dog training and behavior and not interested in the most current research and information available is just plain unethical.  Our field has changed and evolved so much over the past 15-20 years.  Just doing it for a long time is not good enough, we must want to learn more and not be willing to settle for less.