BARKS from the Guild January/February 2015

Page 50


A Judgment-Free Zone

Amy Martin discusses the implementation of compassionate education to guide clients

014 has come and gone and we are now entering into a brand New Year. As 2015 arrives, I find myself reflecting on the previous year. Two of the biggest goals that animal behavior consultants and many dog trainers were trying to reach in 2015 were simple but profound: educate the masses so we can empower people and their pets; and teach animal guardians that there is often a better, safer and more humane way to interact with and care for our animal companions. Throughout 2014, I was pleased to see many positive messages about pet safety in homes, dog bite prevention, companion animal awareness and force-free training. Never before has this kind of education and awareness spread across the world this quickly, impacting millions of people, communities and animal companions. But is there room to improve? The New Year will bring new goals. Did you know that less than 8 percent of New Year’s resolutions are kept? I admit that I usually aim pretty high and then fall short. This year I hope to achieve my intentions and goals by making them about something greater than myself. So I asked myself these questions: What if I set the intention to be less judgmental, less critical, and more compassionate and patient with myself? Would this habit carry over to my animal companions, the people with whom I interact, and my clients? What if I focused more on what I saw was possible, instead of only what I see now? Would this help me to do the same with my animal companions, my clients, and everyone I encounter on a daily basis? What if I listened more, observed more, and reacted less? What would happen? What if I focused more on educating myself and focused less on what I don’t know? Would this help me to do the same with my clients and the public? After asking myself these questions, the answers were clear. What I give to or withhold from myself will reflect in how I treat others. What I practice in my life will parallel life with my animal companions, my clients and the public in general. My personal reflection inspired me to share some lessons I have learned over the years. I hope my insights will inspire you as well. I have been an animal trainer for more than 15 years. I have worn many hats during this time, but the roles I have found most rewarding are those of an educator and relationship builder. I learned very quickly when starting out that building relationships 50

BARKS from the Guild/January 2015

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

© Can Stock Photo/fotostok_pdv


and owners to ensure the best possible care for their pets

between any species – human or animal – is based on trust and mutual respect for one another. I also learned that the most successful kind of education is compassionate and non-judgmental. History has taught us that positive change begins with education. Education impacts individuals, and individuals impact families. If we want to continue to educate the masses, inspire the public, and have long-lasting, positive impacts on individuals and families, we cannot forget to include the three key components of successful education: compassion, support and non-judgmental guidance. I did not always understand this ideology or embrace it. This life lesson was enhanced through my experience and mentorship with Family Paws Parent Education (FPPE). The FPPE programs demonstrate to families there is no need to hide or be embarrassed when things go awry in the home. Negative experiences do not have to become a stigma or something to be ashamed of. FPPE programs show families that there is a compassionate community that does care, that will not judge or condemn them, and that wants to help parents and families in need of guidance and support. The goal in educating and supporting families through FPPE is not to instill fear, judge or place blame on people who unknowingly put their dogs and children in precarious scenarios. Rather, it is to help us all become more aware of ourselves, our dogs, our children and our family members. Compassion, support and guidance are where we start. Awareness is the end state. I invite you to remember when you first started as a dog

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