So – how do foundations get laid? one brick at a time, one stone, one board. One little piece at a time is added until a whole is built.
A whole what? A whole anything- a house, a garage, a book, or blog post, a trained behaviour chain, an in ring performance if you can name it – we can build it!. If you build it piece by piece with attention to the foundation your structure will last a long long time. and that’s the goal really isn’t it?
It might be information (positive training is effective because – SCIENCE or a dog walk is three long planks connected to each other) it might be a skill (a fold back down or a sticking the end of the teeter) or it might be mechanical (in pocket hand let the dog come to the palm of your hand or this is front cross foot work).
People lay their foundation of information, skill and mechanics in different ways. Some people teach themselves, others only work under tutelage. For many a mix of self directed learning (including the evaluation piece!) facilitation (getting help in the learning process and ideas about what to learn), coaching (constructive feedback from experienced eyes) and teaching (often a laid out framework of topics, feedback and information) is the way to build foundation – which leads to success (however you define that piece!)
As a dog trainer you might realize you slide between roles as you
play with train your dogs. In a shaping session you might facilitate the correct choices while in loose leash walking you might teach the skill. In retrieves you might coach the dog “that’s it” “get it” or what have you. As a student of anything you will likely realize that different people “teach” differently. One reason for this is that many are actually moving between the various roles as they bring you along. Other instructors tend to work from one domain more. And that’s OK too, particularly if you can identify what is happening and test filling gaps you may feel you have in different ways.
As a trainer and an educator I move fairly fluidly between the approaches. I tend to coach if I can because for me personally the conclusions I come to myself are the ones I will remember longest but there are always elements and lessons that need more formal teaching. Some people prefer more instruction and I am happy to do that when I realize it as well.
Getting a good foundation matters. Learning what you need to create that and maintain it matters. If you use one person who moves fluidly between the formats for you; or use four people and lots of videoing as well, it doesn’t matter as long as it works for you! Don’t overwhelm yourself running from flavour of the month to flavour of the month – make plan and be methodical but if you find yourself at odds consider coaching and learning as approaches in light of your needs and see what will contribute the most to building or maintaining your foundation,