The Expert Behind the Screen

When I recently posted Felix’s running contacts class graduation video on Facebook, I was aware of how good the video made him (me) look. It was a graduation compilation, not a training tutorial, and people were very kind and supportive. Yet, most of the road to getting there was hours of video editing and data entry, long conversations with other trainers about what I was doing, and of course actual training sessions in the mud and rain where sometimes things went great and sometimes they went so poorly I was ready to quit agility altogether. Would people have been so kind had they seen the session (edited AND unlisted on youtube) where my dog leapt over the yellow again and again and again? Would they have been supportive if they had seen all of my bad clicks, all of my missed calls?

Whatever the answer they might give when asked these questions; I have posted uncut training videos right here, so I know the truth. The answer is no.

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Behind a screen, everyone is an expert.

The answer is that whenever I post a public training video that is uncut (meaning mistakes are laid bare, my timing missteps are present, and whatever else happened is visible) I have received at least ย a couple of second-by-second breakdowns of every single mistake I made in the video. Now, I’m not fishing for compliments, I don’t read these play-by-plays as a rule. I have superb mentors in training who read this blog and watch my videos who tell me when there is something I need to work on. I am careful about whom I accept criticism from because after all, it is not the critic who counts. I’m writing this because if I am receiving this unfair and unneeded criticism, then every other person who is sharing real-time dog training on the internet is receiving it too. And the truth is, that hurts all of us. Videos like my running dogwalk graduation compilation are fun, but they don’t serve to perpetuate kind and fair animal training and they don’t educate. They don’t build a bigger community of people who take the dog’s experience into account when they are training. Only demonstrating how we do this will perpetuate better training scenarios for dogs.

My suggestions here are twofold: if you are a trainer, share more. I am not asking you to give away information for free (although you might be surprised at what free training videos can do for your business!) I am just asking you to embrace vulnerability and share. And, if you are a procurer of dog training information and you feel the urge to shred someone’s training video, rest assured their biggest critic (they, themselves) already did that. It’s a new year and you’ll be seeing more uncut training from me; I hope to see yours too!

To start, here is an uncut video of some stationing work with my Felix and Idgie:

Happy New Year!


5 thoughts on “The Expert Behind the Screen

  1. I agree in that we don’t need the criticism! I post training videos as well, and sometimes uncut with mistakes. That’s how dog training works, we all do it, and it’s real life. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I like seeing video!

  2. Yep, it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. It’s all the mistakes that make us better at what we do, and provide opportunities to learn for both the dog AND us. The ironic thing is, the only way any of you/us got to be experts was by making thousands and thousands of mistakes; now we just make less. Nobody has a corner on perfection, least of all ME!

  3. First, this looked much better then my attempt tonight to work stations with my two dogs. Second, Idgie’s tail feathers are simply gorgeous! I agree, I need to film more and let my clients see mistakes happen and as in this case, with someone whose skills I admire, know my sessions don’t look much worse ๐Ÿ™‚ At least I feel I am on the right track and just not yet there. Thanks for sharing uncut versions.

  4. I am always grateful when trainers post their unedited videos…..our dogs struggle – we the humans struggle, if I can’t see how you progressed out of the mess….how can I? Thank you for NOT showing the finished work as your training journey, because it doesn’t help.

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