It seems the harder I try to make a difference in the dog training world, the more depressed I get. I have so much to learn, it feels like I am drowning in all the knowledge. I think I get ahead of the game by reading a bunch of training books, taking notes, watching seminars, going to social class on Saturday.  Then, I get one little piece of advice from another trainer. One sentence on a dog I have been working on, that’s all it takes. My whole world comes crashing down onto me. I failed…again.

I work and learn, and practice, and then execute on others’ dogs, and then I do see improvement within a week or so. More importantly, the client sees it. I’m thanked, and I’m happy with myself. This tiny moment makes me happy. I’m proud of the accomplishment the client and dog have made. And then I explain to another trainer what I have done. And instead of saying, ‘Wow, you made great progress’, they say something like, ‘Well, you should have been progress within a few minutes’. My hopes, dreams, and all the work I have done … crushed. *Poof*. Gone. And I’m back in my place of feeling worthless and unimportant.

After this happens, I’m swallowed again by the darkness and I feel small and the world would be better without me. I’m a waste of resources. There are better trainers out there, why does the world need me? I get myself all worked up feeling this way, usually crying the rest of the day, and feeling like I want to throw up. This makes my husband angry, and usually we end up fighting. I understand he doesn’t want me to pity myself and to ‘get back up on that horse’. It’s not his fault, I know – he just doesn’t like to see me sad. But I’m always sad on the inside. I just wear my happy mask and try to pretend while I am around people.

I JUST WANT TO BE GREAT! And I have always been willing to put in the effort. I study almost every day, I try to network with other trainers, I try to figure out my next steps. I don’t want a miracle, or just to magically become an awesome trainer. I enjoy learning about different techniques and methods, and I want to learn from other trainers. I want to breathe dog training. This is so much fun for me… but I don’t know if I can make it in the real world. It seems every single force there is, is trying to stop me.

Why do I continue? It’s easier to just give up. To just be a follower, don’t even try. I can’t face the rejection. Why?

Because this is what I want. And I want to put in the time and effort to make it. I love doing it, and it gives me a few moments of happiness. Those few moments are enough for me to get up, take the ‘abuse’ as I like to call it. The world is abusing me. . . and I just have to take it. I have no other choice.

20 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. Been there, it’s not fun. You’re doing the right things to educate yourself and learn as much as you can about dog training. There’s always going to be other trainers that are mean, judgmental, and harsh. Sometime’s it’s unintentional, sometimes it’s not. I’ve met some nasty trainers in this business, especially when I first started. You just have to ignore them and keep working with the trainers that will help you. There’s plenty of dogs to go around in this world, and the trainers that won’t “share” just aren’t worth your time. I hope I never act this way towards you, and if I do, just tell me. It’s unintentional if I do. Keep your chin up.

    • 🙂 thank you, Bethany. You don’t act this way, it’s just really discouraging sometimes when I work so hard. I know in new at everything, and I can admit when I’m wrong about something. It’s part of the joys of being new. I just want to succeed and to be a great trainer. Sometimes, it feels I’m going against the grain, and I’m going about it all wrong. But I don’t see another way.

  2. I really enjoy reading your blog, and you’ve posted great articles, especially the ones about dog training. I think at some point, as with most things, you just have to accept that you can’t please everyone, and you just have to do your best and have confidence in yourself. The happiness that you get out of a happier, well-trained dog in the end is worth the struggle to get there.

    On a side note, do you have any tips? I’m constantly reading and researching and training with my own dog. I’m in the process of trying to sit in on some classes to observe, but I guess I’m just not sure what exactly to do next.

      • An article would be awesome! I just don’t know how to go from reading and researching and sitting in on classes to observe and partake to taking the jump to actually starting your own business or at least training other people’s dogs. Maybe it’s not as hard as I imagine, but it seems difficult to get people to trust you enough when you’re first starting out to believe that you are actually capable of training their dog. I really only have So You Want to be a Dog Trainer by Nicole Wilde to reference for details on how to actually jump into dog training and your own dog training business instead of just preparing for it by reading dog training books.

      • I read that book as well, and it’s a good one. One of the first I read actually. I’m new at training other people’s dogs too. I’ve been doing it professionally for about 6 months. I recommend finding a trainer to shadow, or even work with for a while, and ten get your certification. Check out IACP (canineprofessionals.org), and get a referral from trainers in your area to become a member. This will allow you to go to conferences, and be able to network to trainers around the world. Like Cesar Millan, Heather Beck, and other world famous trainers. Heather’s social class is actually the class I go to on Saturdays. 🙂 her facility is 20 min away from where I live.

  3. Oh friend, I know how crushed you were after hearing criticism during our class. It hurt down to your heart. But remember the exhilaration you felt after the next time you got praise. You walked out with your head held high and a huge grin on your face. I believe in you enough to hire you to train our hyper, naughty, no-manners Great Dane. I think it’s sweet that as you teach Rider, Rider is also teaching you. Please know that we value you as a trainer and as a friend. We are blessed that we found someone who was willing to take on this huge trial and not give up on us. Rider gets better every week and we owe all that to you. You done good girl.

    • XD Ok, so I’m grinning like a goof right now. 🙂 I’m so happy I met you guys, and not only because of Rider, but I scored an awesome friend. 🙂 Thank you for your words of kindness, Ilene!

  4. Thank you! That was helpful. I’ll just keep working at it and trying to shadow other trainers. It’s nice to read about and talk to someone else on the same journey trying to do the same thing!

    • My current goal right now is get enough time off to go to the training school in my area (K9 Lifeline, http://www.k9lifeline.net). The school is a 2 week course and $3,000. I can get the money – eventually, and I’ve been saving, so that’s not a problem. But the 2 weeks, I need the PTO.

      I have read most of the books by Nicole Wilde, you can also find her on Facebook and WordPress. Here is her website: http://www.nicolewilde.com/ and her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NicoleWildeAuthor. Also check out her online articles at DogStar: http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogger/8. She also holds conferences in different states in the US if you wanted to attend one (They aren’t anywhere close to me, so I haven’t been able to go – no time off, remember?)

      You can also watch some free seminars on APDT.com, though I am really starting to be a fan for the IACP instead. That’s where I applied for my membership at least.

      As for business stuff: I would recommend doing some ‘internships’, finding some dogs that are ‘easy’, or doing puppy classes (just one on one at first, in my opinion) and doing them for free. That way, you are learning, and if you don’t know what to do, or the dog isn’t showing improvement, nothing off the client’s back. This helps your reputation as well.

      When you shadow different trainers, find methods you like, but be open minded. At first, I wanted to use all positive training. This is great for a select number of dogs, but I have noticed completely ineffective towards others (the difficult dogs, or more headstrong breeds).

      Also, if you not 100% certain you can help the client, DON’T TAKE ON THE CLIENT! It’s easier to say no, than to have your reputation damaged, and the client will actually thank you for it. Recommend a trainer who can handle it!

      • This has been more than helpful, thank you so much! You have been so helpful with all of your information!

        I really hope you are able to do that K9 Lifeline camp soon. I’m near Peaceable Paws, and they have academies that I have been wanting to attend. I’ve been working on saving up for them, but it’s so difficult trying to work out those schedules with work. I also don’t get any paid time off, and half the time I’m lucky if I leave before 7PM, which of course is when most classes and things start.

        I’ve noticed the IACP and APDT do seem pretty drastically different. Is there a reason you prefer and got your membership through IACP?

      • APDT seems to put down other methods and ‘shames’ other members if they use a different method. It was also recommended highly through a few local, wonderful trainers.

  5. This post really bothered me. I get the feeling overwhelmed part. I feel the same way–every time I feel like I am starting to figure things out, something new comes along and I realize I have only been scratching the surface. It can be a bit disheartening, but it sounds like your love of learning will keep pushing you forward (have you read “Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide” by Brenda Aloff btw? I have been slowly making my way through it and it has helped me SO much with our dogs). I was really upset, though, to hear how your fellow trainers are speaking to you. Of COURSE it’s going to take you a little longer to get a behavior out of a dog at 6 months into this than it would someone who’s been doing this 6 years!!! Your goal is to get there eventually, but it’s not going to magically happen within those first months. For them to expect it is ridiculous! You are at a formative stage in your career and you deserve to be treated with respect and excitement (i.e., wow, someone new loves this as much as I do and I get to share with her all the things I have learned over the years!). I don’t know if you will be able to do this, but at this stage I think finding a mentor who has such an attitude will be extremely important. You sound a lot like me: lots of self doubt, depression, anxiety, wanting to be perfect right away at something new. You need someone who will give you the affirmation you need while teaching you with patience and kindness. I have been fortunate that the trainer we have been working our foster dogs with has taken me under her wing. I have no formal training, but she is teaching me what she knows a little bit at a time. I’m extremely grateful because it’s helping me become a better foster and a better owner. I’ve sat in on her classes and filled in for her when she is away, assisting her assistant (*lol*) and I’ve learned a lot from her assistant trainer as well. They have both treated me with incredible kindness and warmth. You deserve the same treatment: to have someone take you under their wing and build you up into the amazing trainer that you so desire to be. I hope you can find that person. In the meantime, I understand the devastating impact that words can have. I don’t think I could shrug them off either. But coming from someone who struggles in similar ways: remember that you deserve to be treated with respect, and when they speak to you the way they have been, don’t let it shake your foundations. If you want to be great at what you do, you will be, and 10 years from now you will remember your experiences starting out and be kinder to the new kid on the block.

    • Thank you so much for those words! I have ups and downs, and I know I’m just starting. I honestly was upset when I wrote the post, and I have since calmed down. I think part of it was that ever since the beginning, I got off on the wrong foot with this unnamed person. I had too much confidence, and I thought I knew more than I did. It was humbling, and I have continued to learn from this person. Yes, sometimes, it really hurts to find out how far I have to go. But… this is one thing that keeps me going. I will have to order that book off amazon… I have 4 books I bought recently, so I need to read those first, and then I will buy that one (and I’m waiting on another nutrition book too!)

      • Which books are you reading? I’m always up for books about dog training. I’m glad you are feeling better after some time. I really have to let myself feel things in order to let them go–which my husband doesn’t get! *lol*

      • Check out any of Nicole Wilde’s books. I’m just finishing ‘Get a Grip on Aggression’. I have a book on separation anxiety and how to treat it ( can’t remember the name or author). I’m also reading a book called ‘foods pets Die For: Shocking facts about pet food’ by Shawn Messonier. My dog is on raw, and I recommend it, but I love reading about nutrition.

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