Dog trainers often come to me for help with their private lessons. Commonly, a dog trainer will say,
“I have this client coming in in a few days, Their dog is (name the behavior problem of choice), I know the owner needs more foundation, but I’m not totally sure what to do next.”
Have you ever felt this way prior to a private lesson? You know how to train the dog, but you have a bit of anxiety about your plan for the human?
There is a trick that I recommend for all of my pro dog trainer clients. It’s called Backward Planning. Some might refer to it as Reverse Engineering. At its core, it’s simple, but it can take some practice to train yourself to think like this by default.
The key is to start by thinking about the end of the process. Imagine that your client already has all the foundation skills, and they are now ready to address that behavior problem head-on. You will put them in the exact context that the behavior would occur. Except, you aren’t just going to let them wing it, right? You will definitely have some instructions for how you want them to use all the foundational skills they have learned and react to the choices that the dog makes.
What will those instructions be?
What pre-requisite skills are required for the client to be capable of following those instructions?
Can those pre-requisite skills be broken into smaller steps?
Those steps are your lesson plan. By starting with the end goal in mind, you can ensure that every lesson you have is pushing the client closer and closer to their goals with no wasted time or energy.
I know it seems basic, but you’d be amazed how many trainers fail to do this and end up wasting hours of time and feeling lost in the process.
If you are feeling a little lost in your training, I encourage you not only to think about methods and techniques but also to think about processes like setting a training plan.
As the old saying goes:
“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no winds are favorable”
More ways I can help you:
I work virtually and in person with trainers from around the globe to help them make more money, work fewer hours, and get better results. Whether you are trying to sharpen your training and behavior mod skills, grow your business, or achieve a better work-life balance, I’ve got you covered.
My mentorship community The Inner Circle is a forum where we trainers can share ideas and insights on training and behavior, business and marketing, employee management, and more. I am active in the forum daily, and we hold monthly Zoom meetings to dig deep into specific topics.