This book is about the dog-training instructor's first job: teaching people. Our human students require much more attention and understanding than do their canines. If we don't inspire their interest and cooperation, they will not be successful in training their dogs. It offers insights, information, and ideas to help you work more effectively with your human students. It urges you to engage your intelligence and curiosity and courage to try some of these ideas in your own classes and private lessons. It will help you open your mind to new ideas, consider other views, and explore new possibilities in your instructing. And if you are training your own dog, it will enhance your efforts by suggesting new ways to think about the teaching and learning process.
What reviewers are saying...
APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
“While it is often said that most dog trainers find themselves in the business of training dogs due to a love of dogs, the most important relationship in a group class setting is that between the human student and the instructor. When that relationship is solid, everyone—especially the dog—will benefit. Weinberg’s book is about teaching people. As the introduction states, “Although we describe ourselves as “dog trainers,” we know that our human students require much more attention and understanding than do their canines. If we don’t inspire their interest and cooperation, they will not be successful in training their dogs.”
Teaching People Teaching Dogs is divided into two sections. Part one addresses the student and offers the reminder that they often arrive to class with a laundry list of preconceived ideas about their dogs and what drives dog behavior. Chapters include, “What I want My Students to Learn,” “Ten Assumptions That Lead Students Astray,” and “Guiding Students Toward New Beliefs About Their Dogs.” To me, much of this section felt overly “chatty” and as though Weinberg had invested too much effort into preaching to the choir. For example, each assumption listed in the chapter, “Ten Assumptions that Lead Students Astray,” includes a lengthy description of the author’s like assumptions about her own dogs and their training before she became a dog trainer. Similarly, the chapter, “What Happens When We Treat Our Dogs as if They’re People,” felt out of place in a book written for instructors—an audience that one would expect would already be well aware of the dangers of anthropomorphizing.
In my opinion, the book improves in the second section, which addresses the instructor piece of the dog training puzzle. It starts with Weinberg’s classification of “Instructor Types” based on the temperament models of psychologist David Keirsey. Explained as the intellectual, the cheerleader, the organizer and the jiggler, this section highlights the importance of maintaining a willingness to reach beyond one’s primary instructor type in an effort to best assist students. It serves as a friendly reminder that, as instructors, we are often are willing to think outside the box and try new things when it comes to working with dogs, but many of us aren’t always as flexible in our style of dealing with the humans at the other end of the leash.
The book goes on to give useful advice on how to interpret student feedback while avoiding unnecessary emotional baggage that can easily be created by attempting to read between the lines. The chapters on maintaining self-esteem, hints for self-appreciation and preventing burnout do a nice job of reminding the instructor that it’s not only okay, but extremely important to take care of himself throughout the process of helping students with their dogs. I particularly liked the chapter entitled, “The ABCs of Fee-Setting,” which does a lovely job highlighting what instructors really get paid for. While I love my job and often joke that I get paid to play with dogs all day, it was good to be reminded that my clients are actually paying for the fact that my attention to their dog extends far beyond the scheduled lesson time. Ever wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden idea about how to help a client? As trainers we bring passion, dedication, experience, flexibility, honesty and much more to the table. It’s a complex recipe of interpersonal communication and it was nice to be reminded that we deserve to be paid for it. A review of this chapter is no doubt cheaper than an hour with a therapist when my trainer self-esteem is running low!
I feel this book offers valuable pieces of information for instructors, but at times, they can be difficult to uncover amid the casual conversation. I also found some of the chapters to feel out of place in a book written for instructors. For example, in the student section, the chapters, “Three Ways to Reach a ‘Difficult’ Student,” “Guiding Students Toward New Beliefs,” and “On the Road to Smooth Communication,” feel relevant to the topic of teaching others, whereas, in my opinion, the chapter “What Happens When We Treat Dogs as if They’re People,” does not. In the instructor section, the chapter, “When Management Ends and Learning Begins,” poses the question of: are we as trainers sometimes too quick to implement a management technique vs. embarking on a long-term behavior modification program? The book then gives examples of circumstances where trainers often recommend management, but offers very little information on how to help instructors achieve student buy-in to more detailed training programs. I think Weinberg poses a very important question and I would’ve loved some new ideas on how to improve client compliance with long-term behavior modification programs.
Overall, I feel the book offers valuable information and important reminders for trainers, despite my occasional confusion about why (or where) certain topics were included when others were not. At a short 130 pages, it’s a quick and easy read. For me, as long as a book makes me examine at least one new idea or reconsider an old one, it’s a worthwhile addition to my training library.”