Monday, September 6, 2010

A Student Is Only As Smart As Their Teacher

The chalkboard clearly read: "X = no Pink Pill". I couldn't tell you what compelled J to give Sarah a pink pill that day. If he looked at the corresponding calendar, he would see that today is NOT a day for the pink pill. With annoyance, I circled the directions in a thick, sarcastic line so that next time he won't make the same mistake. Sarcasm always makes for an excited learner.

The next day, he proudly tells me that he got it right this time. He gave Sarah a pink pill. "Are you insane!? You gave Sarah a pink pill yesterday! She's only supposed to have them every other day and after your royal screw up yesterday, that would mean she's now had them two days in a row!!!" I didn't say this. But my inner voice was screaming this. I adjusted the chalkboard with what I thought was better instruction. I was able to control my words, but my face said everything my mouth did not.

On the third day, J informed me that he's finally on track with the pink pill. He gave her a full pink pill and half of a yellow one. AAARGH! Pink pill dose is supposed to be half a pill. Yellow pill dose said on the chalkboard "1 1/2 pill". How can he be getting this so wrong so many times!! With much embarrassment, J said "ohhh...I thought that meant one HALF pill...." My eyes were rolling farther in to my head than I thought possible...

Seriously!!?? What is his problem!? Is he a complete idiot!?! Is he trying to piss me off and kill my dog!?!

The problem with being a dog trainer is that you learn stuff about people. Isn't that crazy!?

This whole mix up is technically my fault. But shhhhh! Let's not tell J that. My pride is too fragile ;)

You see, I had the advantage of knowing all the information I needed to know when I wrote the directions on the chalkboard. J did not. He went into it cold, having only my loosely translated instructions to follow. And look where they led him. He failed three times at no fault of his own.

It was the fault of the person with the information - it was the fault of the trainer.

Sure, it's easy for me to get annoyed. I know how to execute the pill dispensing perfectly. I was the one who talked to the doctor and picked up the medicine from the pharmacy. J just got the instructions: Give Sarah her medicine. How is this fair? Of course he screwed it up!

When teaching your dogs, make sure you are providing all the information you can to make them successful. If you leave any tidbits out or muddy the waters with instructions that don't make sense, you shouldn't be expecting perfection from your dog. If you've ever uttered the words "He knows how to [insert behavior] he's just being [stubborn, stupid, dumb, etc.]" then perhaps it's not your student but rather the instruction your student is receiving. And whose responsibility is that? ;)


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