There is something interesting about dog trainers, and therefore the culture of dog training, something I don’t see a lot of outside the sphere of dog training. This “thing,” is the language used when talking about dogs and dog training. Part of the reason for this is that as a dog trainer, talking about our craft is almost intoxicating. For many of us who are dog trainers, this is the ONE thing we are truly good at, or at the least, one of the things we take immense pride in. We enjoy the opportunities to speak about something we feel so passionately about.
Aside from the formal language associated with the scientific aspects of training an animal, there are a variety of buzzwords and catchphrases used in the common vernacular. Many of these buzzwords have definitions that are elusive to the casual person, one might say esoteric. If you’re a part of the dog world, you’ve no doubt heard some of the phrases I’m talking about. There’s the demonized “alpha,” there’s “leader, pack, dominance, pressure,” and my least favorite “energy.” I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with any of these words, yet I hesitate to use some of them.
I think that as professionals, we can do a bit better to define some of the concepts these buzzwords are meant to convey. Our job after all, is all about communication. Why use words that are so easily convoluted?
In my next post, I’m going to talk about why I think we can do better, and why that should be our goal.