Staying open-minded is important for your dog’s well-being

Once we know something, we have to act on it. Best practices for your dog’s wellbeing are always evolving.

Burden of Information – the struggle is real!

I say it often, you don’t know what you don’t know. BUT what do we do with information when we learn something new? That is the struggle. Let’s start with an example, have you ever known someone you thought was amazing and could do no wrong? Well, what happens if they were to stab you in the back? Cheat on you? Steal from you? Could you ever go back to seeing them the same way after learning who they really are? Of course not! That is the burden of information – when you learn something that changes your perception, the struggle IS real. Once you know something, you can’t unknow it. From there, how do you change your relationships and your life to accommodate this new information? That is the struggle – the guilt of knowing something while often feeling helpless to change it.

Ignorance is bliss

The burden of information, in the dog world, has been getting at me for a long time, so I thought it was time to share the struggle. For example, I used to live at adoption events every weekend and loved it, but as I started moving into training and learning more about dogs and dog behavior these events became so overwhelming for me. From watching dogs pull people around on flat collars, to kennels with four dogs in them or volunteers throwing treats in for the dogs. Eventually, I just had to stop going. I wished I didn’t know what I knew. As is so often true, ignorance would have been bliss.

But ignorance has a price

As my career progressed, I started to learn more about feeding and nutrition. Wow! What a wormhole. This started to bring me more burden of information. Agh! The first time I saw an expert speak about dogs and nutrition, I had just had to put my dog down due to bloating. I was overcome with guilt in realizing that I may have inadvertently contributed to his health issues. I thought I’d been doing great with my dogs, but I was actually ignorant of what they really needed. I now knew raw food was the way to go, but I couldn’t afford to feed all six of my large dogs an expensive raw food diet. The guilt I felt was huge and I now had this burden of truth that did not sit comfortably. I originally thought I wasn’t able to change the situation due to financial constraints, but I eventually decided to do everything in my power until I could finally afford to make the complete jump to raw food. I’ve never looked back. While I had initially wanted to ignore it, once I had the burden of truth, I felt forced to make a change. It wasn’t a quick change, but it was the right one.

The truth in action

Several years ago, I spent time in Texas teaching a workshop to an amazing group of trainers, many I have known and respected for years. I was going to be presenting my tools and techniques to people I knew had been working in this industry at least as long, or much longer than I had. Agh, scary! This was the most advanced group of people I’d ever worked with and all I could do was hope I could present my information in a way that they might be open to the “burden” of new information.

We spent three days working hands-on with dogs on head collars, usually the most hated tool in dog training (hee hee). I saw a lot of people in that group change their perception of a tool they’d previously rejected in their programs, according to the information they’d had at the time. It was awesome how open-minded everyone was, and they were great at putting me at ease about what I was teaching them.

Some burdens are gifts in disguise

Through that week, I learned that new information is only a burden if you can’t see the value in how it can benefit you, your dogs or your clients. I highly encourage everyone in the dog world to “burden” yourself with new information – which simply means being able to stay open-minded. There is value in new ideas, tools and techniques that come into your world. The “struggle” will affect you in positive ways when you are able to accommodate the new information. Good luck, and welcome to the Burden of Information!

Heather’s Heroes


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