It seems that everybody is a dog trainer. I just came back from socializing my dog and a guy came up to me, proceeded to tell me all about how I should train my dog. Some of it was okay, but most of it was nonsense. I didn’t tell him anything about myself or what I do with dogs. I allowed the guy to pet my dog and while she was in a sit, let him stand next to her. It was invaluable socialization. The rest of the conversation was pretty unproductive.
This is not the first time an incident like this has occurred for me. It’s as routine as the number of times I have taken a dog off the premises for socialization/fun time.
Again, I have nothing against people talking with me about my dog, but what I do find amusing is the pedantic nature of the conversation. “You need to………….”. “Your dog is…………”. And so on. Like I said, everyone is a dog whisperer or a show judge. The false information, idiotic conclusions and faulty advice that I have been given over the years could fill a small book. Yes, it used to bother me to no end. And yes, I’ve gotten my own self confidence up enough that this stuff doesn’t ruin my day, but it took a while and quite a bit of handler training to have enough knowledge to get past these little encounters.
So, the problem isn’t so much the stuff that comes out of these ‘expert’s’ mouths. It’s whether or not you can take all of it with the objectivity that it deserves. In other words, take what people say and decide for yourself whether it merits further handling or inspection. Don’t reject it out of hand, but don’t sit there and develop issues for yourself and your dog because so and so said something you didn’t like about your obedience.
This is most insidious with dog trainers and more specifically people pretending to train dogs. I worked with someone recently who had been told all sorts of things about her dogs, all from experienced trainers. Some of the statements were true, but because the people who gave her the advice or critiques had some kind of authority on the subject, she decided to become neurotic on the subject of training her dogs. This got directly in the way of her learning how to correctly train her dog, because she was more concerned about what people thought than just getting down to the task of getting the dog to sit. Now, granted, a person like this is always concerned about what other people think, so there’s a bigger issue than dogs here. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that you are the only one, as the handler, who can either observe your dog’s faults objectively or wait for some ‘expert’ to tell you something that you don’t want to hear.
It’s up to you. I personally prefer to take matters into my own hands and work to develop an objective, honest viewpoint about each dog I am handling, with the end in mind of correcting as many faults as possible within a reasonable time period. I am more than willing to listen to what someone has to say, but I try to simply and only take what I need out of the conversation or incident and leave the rest behind.
After all, not everyone can own Rin-Tin-Tin, can we?