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The Power of Praise: Why Dog Trainers Need to Reward Themselves as Well as Their Dogs

As a dog trainer, you know how important it is to use positive reinforcement to train your dog. Positive reinforcement means rewarding your dog for doing something you want them to do, such as sitting, staying, or coming when called. Positive reinforcement can take many forms, such as treats, toys, praise, or affection. Positive reinforcement can teach your dog new skills, strengthen your bond, and increase their confidence and motivation.

happy dog with dog trainer in background

But did you know that positive reinforcement is not only sound for your dog but also for yourself? As a dog trainer, you face many challenges and frustrations, such as dealing with demanding clients, handling behavioural issues, or coping with stress and burnout. You may also have high expectations of yourself and your dog and feel disappointed or discouraged when things go differently than planned. That's why rewarding yourself and your dog for your hard work and achievements is crucial.

 

word art expressing self-love

Rewarding yourself can have many benefits, such as:

  • Improving your mood and well-being

  • Boosting your self-esteem and confidence

  • Reducing your stress and anxiety

  • Increasing your motivation and productivity

  • Enhancing your creativity and problem-solving skills

  • Strengthening your resilience and coping skills


 

dog trainer giving command to a very happy dog

So, how can you reward yourself as a dog trainer? Here are some ideas:

  • Celebrate your successes, big and small. Whether you taught your dog a new trick, solved a client's problem, or reached a personal goal, acknowledge and appreciate your efforts and results. You can do this by writing down your achievements, sharing them with others, or treating yourself to something you enjoy, such as a movie, a meal, or a massage.

  • Take care of your physical and mental health. Being a dog trainer can be physically and mentally demanding, so looking after yourself is essential. You can get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and relax. You can also seek professional help if you need it, such as a therapist, a coach, or a mentor.

  • Learn new skills and expand your knowledge. As a dog trainer, you never stop learning. You can reward yourself by pursuing your interests and passions, such as taking a course, reading a book, or attending a seminar. You can also learn from other dog trainers by joining a network, a community, or a forum. Learning new skills and expanding your knowledge can improve your performance, grow your business, and enrich your life.

  • Have fun and enjoy yourself. Being a dog trainer can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be stressful and exhausting. That's why having fun and enjoying yourself is essential, both with your dog and without. You can do this by playing games or hobbies or spending time with friends and family. You can also try new things like travelling, volunteering, or exploring. By having fun and enjoying yourself, you can recharge your batteries, balance your life, and find joy and meaning in your actions.


 

group of dog handlers with their dogs posing for the camera.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a dog trainer is helping others, especially those who need it the most. One example is training service dogs for army veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other disabilities. Service dogs can provide emotional and physical support, companionship, and assistance to veterans, improving their quality of life and well-being.


Service dog giving its owner a loving kiss on the nose.

However, training service dogs for veterans is challenging and past my current accreditation. It requires a lot of time, money, and resources, and there is a high demand and a low supply of service dogs in Canada. That's why many organizations and charities rely on donations and volunteers to train and provide service dogs for veterans, such as the Canadian Veteran Service Dog Unit³, the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides⁶, and the Fetch it Forward program by the Dogtopia Foundation Canada.


dog owner getting a lick on the face from his furry friend.

Suppose you want to support these causes and make a difference in the lives of veterans and their service dogs. In that case, you can donate to one of these organizations or charities or find other ways to get involved, such as by becoming a puppy raiser, a foster parent, or a trainer. By doing so, you can reward yourself by giving back to the community, helping those in need, and unleashing the potential of dogs and humans.


 

Dog trainer holding out a cookie for a sitting dog.

Without the hard work of dog trainers, many veterans would go without the benefits of their service dogs. However, trainers need to remember to take care of themselves and their furry companions as well. By using positive reinforcement techniques for both themselves and their dogs, trainers can improve their own well-being and ultimately make an even greater positive impact on the world. This includes boosting their mood, confidence, and motivation, reducing stress, enhancing creativity, and strengthening resilience, all while having fun and helping others.


So praise yourself because you and your dog are both fantastic!

( I'll tell you a secret; I speak from experience... more to come in future posts!)

 

Here are some resources that can help you find places to encourage your clients to donate!

(do your research)


(1) Canadian Veteran Service Dog Unit - CVSDU. https://cvsdu.ca/

(2) Service Dogs - Veterans Affairs Canada. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/about-vac/research/research-directorate/info-briefs/service-dogs

(3) Canadian Veteran Service Dog Unit (CVSDU) - CanadaHelps. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/canadian-veteran-service-dog-unit-cvsdu/

(4) Help us unleash potential - Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. https://www.dogguides.com/

(5) Fetch it Forward | Dogtopia Foundation Canada. https://www.dogtopiafoundationca.org/

(6) Health Canada funds PTSD service dog training program | CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/health-canada-funds-training-program-for-service-dogs-for-veterans-with-ptsd-1.5660736

(7) Service Dog Certification - Online Service Dog Registration - Service .... https://www.servicedogscanada.org/

(8) Service Dogs – Badge of Life Canada. https://badgeoflifecanada.org/service-dogs/

(9) Canadian Association of Guide and Assistance Dog Schools. http://cagads.com/programs.html

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