My first home consult (circa 2016) was terrible.
I met someone out on a walk with my dog and they expressed some challenges they were having at home. I actually offered to go for free to their house because I wasn’t in the game of doing home consults and I wanted to get some experience.
To cut a long story short it went awfully! ?I knew I could help the people and their dog, but I didn’t know how to meet them where they were!
They were an elderly couple, no idea about using technology (the reason I add this will become important soon) and zero cares about how behavior worked other than wanting to stop their dog from doing the “annoying” thing without having to do any work! Ha, I’m joking they weren’t that bad …
So anyway, I go in trying to sell them on my model of helping people online and the virtues of positive reinforcement training and how/why it works. The old man literally fell asleep in his chair (in all seriousness though – I think this was due to factors outside of me i.e. health). And his wife was not resonating with what I was saying at all! But ON I went … blah blah blah!
She offered to pay me at the end of this visit, but I didn’t accept any money and really just wanted to help her and her dog! Next time I saw her though was out walking the dogs not doing another consult!
Over the last three years I’ve worked hard at learning to meet our human learners where they’re at, and recently, this was really put to the test.
This time I went to a local dog groomer to observe how things were being done for a current paying client of mine (of whom I am working with them and their dog!)
Unfortunately I feel this particular experience was quite unpleasant for the dog involved. If I had done this a few years ago I don’t think I could have even sat through that two hour session. Back then I lacked compassion for the human. Now, I am convinced they were doing the absolute best they could with the information & experience they had.
So I could meet them where they were at, I worked really hard to identify a number of things that they did that I really liked! And here are two of them!
- At one point, non contingent high value food was offered to the dog! Boom LOVE it! The dog readily ate it and I commented on the value I thought this brought to this particular grooming session
- The groomer consistently told me about how they thought the animals learning history played a big role in the behaviors that they saw in their business! I commended them on this insight and agreed on the importance of this.
Other then that I just sat silently and watched …
That is UNTIL the groomer asked me a question about their horse’s behaviour! And boy did I do my absolute best to reinforce that curiosity! This lead to me having an opportunity to offer some thoughts and send links to free resources where they could learn more.
Part of my approach here was greatly influenced by what Ken Ramirez taught me in a recent podcast episode we did together where Ken shared five things people can do when working with others to move them toward better use of positive reinforcement tools in order to make their training more effective. You can listen to the podcast episode here >>> http://bit.ly/ATA_Ken_Ramirez
And watch a video link of the specific part of the podcast where Ken talks about this below;
Want more Ken … ?!? Register for your $1 ten day trial ATA membership today to gain access to more exclusive premium members content form Ken Ramirez & other industry leading experts ACCESS HERE
See the full list of ATA premium members only live training replays here >>> https://www.animaltrainingacademy.com/members-only/
Will the human learner mentioned above check out the resources I sent them? I don’t know! I have not been able to get this experience out of my head though! The biggest question I have is how could I have done more. How can I train myself to focus even more on reinforceable behaviors from others and meet them where they are (rather than where my expectations might be). Who knows, maybe in three years I will be sending you an email about how silly I was in this situation – much like my original experience with the home consult.
What about you? How do you develop compassion for your learners? How can we better meet our learners where they are? I look forward to you hearing your thoughts and can you let me know by leaving them in the comments section below.
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P.s This is also something I am also really taking away from a current endeavour doing my KPA (Karen Pryor Academy) professional dog training certification. We have to do written assignments tailoring our messages to different audiences and I am learning a lot! It’s been an amazing one month journey so far and I am looking forward to the next five months!