Finding your place

Belonging

Such a simple word for huge concept

A human need, but can you find it through dog training? 

 

A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Feeling that you belong is most important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions, so why, you may ask am I speaking about it here on our Dog Training & Behaviour page?

Belonging

noun
  1. an affinity for a place or situation.
    “we feel a real sense of belonging

I came to dog training having trained as a horse trainer initially. In fact, I found my first dog Alfie while on one of my horse training courses. When I brought him home and asked for recommendations for puppy classes from my vet every one I called was happy to enrol us and let me know they would supply a ‘choke chain’ when we attended.  I had never heard of such a device but felt anything with ‘choke’ in the title didn’t sit well with my 10 weeks old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I started to google and found someone who said they used only ‘positive methods’ again a phrase I was not familiar with, but with positive in the title, I felt much better. Little did I know this would be the start of not only a journey into the world of training and behaviour but a whole new career path too.

I felt I had found the area of animal training I belonged in. I was curious, passionate and couldn’t ask enough questions, I was, and still, am, a sponge, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I love to read, research and process theories when it comes to all things dog. I didn’t, however, feel I had yet found an organisation I truly belonged in though. In fact, it took me 9 years before I thought I had found the right place for me and in turn it led me to become a member of other organisations too, each for what they added to me professionally or personally. So why am i sharing this personal journey with you all, you might ask. I am sharing this because when I set up Believe In Magic in South East London and started the classes, I wanted to create a space where people could come to have their questions answered, have support in person and guided on methods for their individual relationship with their unique dog. Today I really felt like we had managed to achieve this. Today we had three classes back to back all exploring methods of training to expand the handlers skill base and supporting the dogs to understand how to live in our crazy human world in South East London. We are so fortunate to have met and guided so many fantastic dog and human relationships.

In October 2016 I had a phone call with Victoria Stilwell, having mentored for her Academy since July I had met some fantastic people virtually. Trainers and behaviourists I felt who were supportive, encouraging and who challenged me too. All the best aspects of a real family. All brought together by a common interest in trying to be the best we can for dogs AND humans. This was the critical aspect of what Victoria had achieved that led me to become one of her licensed trainers. Most of the organisations for dog training or behaviour focus on the methods we use, in most aspects this focus is on how we treat the dogs. So why did I not feel the desire to be part of similar organisations earlier? I hadn’t thought I truly belonged. I knew they were good organisations, but I wanted to feel I belonged within them and would bring something to them by being part of them. When I learnt more about VSPDTs (Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainers), I knew I had found like-minded individuals who all shared a common goal to empower ALL learners, human and dog. This was the key, this was when I finally felt I belonged. When Victoria welcomed me, the first thing I wanted to do was call my mum, I wanted to tell her that the lady who we had watched together on TV all those years ago (sorry Vik), had accepted me as one of her trainers, but not just accepted me, had welcomed me and made me feel I was valued. Sadly I had lost my mum in October 2011, but knowing how happy she would have been for me has stayed with me.

It was my VSPDT family who got me through tough times when I seriously considered stopping my behaviour work all together and it is my VSPDT family who make me laugh all the time. They are a unique bunch of INCREDIBLY talented people. 

This year I am helping organise Crufts to spread the word of Positively (Victoria’s Brand ) as a whole, far and wide, at the largest dog show on the planet. This is a huge privilege to be able to be there promoting the work of all our VSPDTs and the Victoria Stilwell Academy, for which I have mentored 8 students through in 2.5 years. We will be in Hall 2, Stand 28 come along, say hi, learn about what we offer as trainers, an education body and as an incredible family of Trainers and Behaviourists across the world all linked by a common desire to spread the Positively word, empowering dogs and their guardians to learn to live together in this crazy world.