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                                           "he Conundrum of Dog Training Videos"

Acquiring skills efficiently is best done by developing a plan. The structure of any process requires sequential steps each identified with a rationale.  Ultimately, the "riddle" of training videos is to understand how retriever trainers are impacted by and/or react to video training presentations.

Recently, the concept of “How To Train a Retriever” videos has become very popular.  In essence, "what is viewed" represents an example of the correct performance (at various levels) and is sequential. Interrelated skill sets are developed in a visual sequence designed to be seamless.

Because of a diversity in a retriever's genetics and environment, there is a wide range in potential . In essence, what to do with a specific retriever could vary considerably. Another factor that is often forgotten about (or not stressed) is individuals using videos as a key training reference are often not all that skilled at teaching, training or analyzing. This issue becomes a conundrum when the process becomes an "intricate and difficult problem".


However, the "conundrum" in question is not just about the "How To Train a Retriever" videos. It is more about how to use personal videos to improve a trainer’s skills and in the process make it fairer for the dog…..no matter what level they are presently working at.

The first issue is to accept the fact that filming yourself automatically makes a person more vulnerable.  Being self-critical requires honesty. At first, analysis may not happen easily. In addition, reality can be "uncomfortable". It follows that being able to critique oneself with an unbiased opinion is required. However, coming to grips with that challenge is necessary. Recognizing this issue is half the battle and eventual "staying the course" will provide lasting motivation. 

Buy a video camera and start filming training sessions. Make sure during filming both yourself and the dog are "captured". More often than not, truly seeing what is seen is not automatic. Having a point of reference requires experience. There will be some instances (early on) when those initial videos may "never" be seen by anyone else.....if you are truly understanding what was recorded. And it is extremely important to include the trainer (you) in the final production. The dog will be doing what he wants to plus what you let him do. Sometimes those are not in "harmony".

Self-doubt can be relentless....and some tend to "feed" on that. A strong training mentor can speed up the process and aid in keeping a person "out of left field" and comfortable with the process.

After awhile (when you become less vulnerable), each filmed session will enable a trainer to "see" the things they didn't realize and accept this new reality as part of a learning process. By all means try and let others see the videos. However, the biggest personal issue to confront will be criticism from insensitive "characters" or those believing videos are intended to be a "this is how it is supposed to be" presentations. Having a lack of perspective makes no difference for some. 

For instance, a specific video may reveal a certain stage in training that requires attention and that should be seen as the REAL reason for all  training videos in the first place. The few naïve (and often insensitive) critics may "seize the moment” and from their "blind spot" of no perspective (sarcasm intended) dismiss good intentions. The ultimate question is how vulnerable are you willing to be?

For example, one might make their own YouTube videos and simply click the private button. This will make it so they will be the only one able to view it. Or "on-the-other-hand", one can allow it to be viewed by anyone (which is somewhat risky, but usually best in the long run). Doing this may quickly provide a few much needed, unbiased opinions which you may be unaware of.

The fundamental rationale for "doing" videos is to increase awareness. Timely videos can become excellent "game changers" and/or progress markers. What is filmed really makes no difference....it is....what it is. The visual information becomes the data for analysis for change or validation. 

The fact is, most people only want to see how it is supposed to be……and when it is not. Critics and their opinions are relatively simple to quantify.  Tact is not a given. 

The above often leads to the "protective approach" (which is not as productive).  Practice what you will eventually film until your dog really has it down "pat", then film and post the video. Perpetuate the myth of most retriever training videos.

The lack of "not knowing what you don’t know" can be reduced by watching both you and/or the dog NOT do something very well together. Over a period of time increased awareness and anticipation will enable you to react more quickly in the field and deal more efficiently with situations in the moment. Becoming a better trainer requires personal awareness, honesty and real time experience. What better way is there to speed up the process than by watching yourself and the dog in action? Using this approach soon changes a trainer's actions to one of being pro-active.

Build your own thick skin initially, then reveal the less than ideal videos by removing the YouTube "private", self-preservation tool.  Unfortunately, most expect and want real time training videos where the action is stopped, cut and practiced often before the final "take" is put on display. If it is not perfect, the "critics" tend to surface....some with good advice (others not so much).

If it appears to be practiced and error free it will  be labeled as "not real"....and if it is "too real"  (with issues) these two alternatives generate the "conundrum". 

In general, most prefer to view real, non-edited/unrehearsed performances done by someone else.

note: In other sports, videos of performances (game time and practice) are studied regularly to see which areas require work to improve skills. In most cases, the viewer(s) have a well established perspective (that no one else has). By studying film, the ability to make adjustments in training may become simpler and more accurately focused.