It’s amazing to witness the growth and confidence that trainers experience as they overcome challenges and see their hard work pay off. Just like solving a puzzle, when all the pieces come together, a trainer’s confidence soars, and they embark on a transformative journey. As unwanted behaviors vanish and training skills sharpen, a beautiful human-animal partnership blossoms. But the benefits extend beyond the training arena. Stepping out of their comfort zone and acquiring new skills, trainers learn invaluable life lessons. That is what makes dog training so powerful!
Many trainers begin their journey as handlers, kennel staff, or dog walkers—shy and inexperienced, but eager to absorb every ounce of training knowledge they encounter. Gradually, they start walking their dogs differently and adjusting their own behaviors. Their work improves, and they achieve results more swiftly. Compliments pour in from experienced trainers and management, fueling their growing confidence. With time, they make fewer mistakes and delve deeper into the understanding of dog behavior. Their progression is remarkable, and the transformation is tangible. The impact of training stretches far beyond the scope of animal behavior—it molds individuals into more resilient, confident, and capable versions of themselves. They are able to choose another modus and step into their world with pride and self confidence. That is why you hear me, during my workshops, often ask participants to choose the modus that is needed for the task they are about to perform.
Then the transformation
There are a few reasons why you might lean more towards using feedforward when coaching dog trainers
Future Focused: Feedforward is about shaping future behavior rather than dwelling on the past. It allows the trainer to adapt their approach based on what they’ve learned, rather than focusing on correcting past mistakes. In the dynamic context of dog training, this can be very beneficial, as it promotes adaptability and continuous learning.
Constructive Approach: Feedforward tends to be more constructive and positive in nature, which can help maintain motivation and engagement. If a trainer is constantly receiving criticism about past mistakes, they may become discouraged. Conversely, feedforward provides guidance and suggestions for future situations, promoting a growth mindset
Also feedback has its place
- Emphasize Strengths: People are often more motivated to improve when they feel confident about their abilities. Emphasize the strengths of the dog trainers you’re coaching, and highlight how they can use these strengths to address their challenges. This can be more empowering and motivating than focusing solely on their weaknesses.
- Be Specific and Clear: Instead of using broad or vague terms, be as specific as possible about what they are doing well and where they can improve. Clear, concrete suggestions are more likely to be acted upon and can help prevent misunderstanding. Like Brené Brown explained, clear is kind, unclear is unkind.
- Timing Matters: Choose the right time to provide feedforward. Ideally, it should be soon after the observed behavior so the event is fresh in their mind. Also, ensure the person is in the right state of mind to receive your input – they should be calm, not overly stressed, and ready to listen.
- Create a Safe Space: Establish a trusting relationship where they feel comfortable receiving and acting upon your feedforward. Open dialogue, mutual respect, and understanding are essential for this. The person should feel that your intent is to help them grow, not criticize or demean them.
- Encourage Open Dialogue: Make it a two-way conversation. After giving your feedforward, ask for their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. This can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the situation and foster a more engaging and interactive learning environment.
What to do with challenging people?
- Build Trust: Resistance to change can often be rooted in fear or lack of trust. Spend time building a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. It may take time, but creating a safe environment can lead to greater receptivity.
- Understand their Perspective: Try to understand their fears, apprehensions, and motivations. A resistant attitude often masks deeper concerns. Having open, empathetic conversations might help reveal these underlying issues.
- Connect Goals to Personal Interests: People are more likely to engage in change if they can see a direct benefit for themselves. Connect the goals of the training or coaching to their personal interests, goals, or values.
- Involve them in Decision Making: People are more likely to buy into a change if they feel they’ve had some input in shaping it. Allow them to contribute ideas and solutions.
- Provide Incremental Challenges: Big changes can feel overwhelming. Instead, offer small, manageable challenges that allow for quick wins and gradually move them out of their comfort zone.
- Model Positive Behavior: Demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes you hope to see can also influence their mindset.
- Offer Support: Let them know you’re there to support them, not judge them. Show patience and persistence.
You can not force growth and change
ACT! Is operating worldwide. You can find more information on my website www.simonprins.com about the ACT! innovative training products and workshops about detection, odor recognition testing, tracking, scent wheel training, laser training and radio-directional dogs. If you are interested the ACT, Masterclass, please contact me so I can provide you with the specific Masterclass you need for your organization!
Any questions or comments?
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