Ok, yes. I guess I am going there. Let’s talk about social media. This is a bit meta, me – on social media – commenting social media life. I’ll try to keep my own principles, but I feel the need to address some things.
First of all, my own agenda with my social media channel is to exchange inspiration, knowledge and ideas with other dogtrainers and handlers. It’s a great way to find new friends, engage in other peoples training and giving each other new ideas.
The dogworld doesn’t look the same everywhere. It’s very clear for me, northern Europe is a lot different compared to the rest of the continent, and don’t get me started on how we differ from America. I don’t believe one of us is doing right tho. As with everything, we have good and bad parts, all of us. I love following people who come from another perspective, it’s the absolute best way to get new ideas – ideas from your own perspective is easy to come up with, but to think outside the box you sometimes need influence from outside your box. I thank social media for this – it’s amazing! I gained friends, role models and idols through this app.
Our differences and the fact that Instagram makes the distance between us shorter doesn’t only mean that I’ll see a lot of new things I like and get inspired by – it also means that I’ll see a lot of things that we/I do different, that I don’t agree with or wouldn’t do myself. It doesn’t mean those things are wrong per se – we sometimes believe in different roads. We have to remember that.
Some things are right or wrong. For example, dogs have to be fed, go out and have a job/activation to feel good. How to teach a focused heel is a matter of taste – both the end result and the way there. And we all must have the space to learn, try and experiment without others telling us what’s “right”.
I am now going to do exactly the thing I want to talk about – talk about how others do on social media. This will be the first and the last time you see me do this – and if you catch me doing it in the future – call my bullshit! This is my one exception, and I’ll stay nice:
I see more and more big accounts talk about how others do on social media. How “people fake it”, “they train for instagram”, “they don’t put time in the right areas” and how they “only post bitework to be cool” – and I ask myself why these rants get so embraced? Why do we feel the need to talk about what others do in negative terms all the time?
If I want more transparent content on Instagram, I try to inspire and set an example – not shame people for not being transparent. If I want more obedience, I try to inspire and set an example – not telling them that nobody wants to see bitework. If I want people to talk about how they do with their dogs in everyday life more, I try to inspire and set an example. And I definitely not shame people for showing their best parts on Instagram – it’s not like they used a stunt dog and faked it, it might just be that one down in motion that was perfect – but why on earth shouldn’t we be able to celebrate that? That down in motion was real, and recorded – let’s see it! It’s inspiring to everyone that it can be reached no matter how it usually looks and that you can work for making that one time your standard. The way of picking in others training telling them that it’s not good enough, that it’s wrong to train a dog to create content and so on is so unsympathetic – my dogs sure as hell doesn’t know if we train for a trial or to make a cool Instagram video – they’re just happy to do stuff together. Let people have their thing.
And most importantly of everything: everyone uses their social media channel in their way, it’s not one right way to train a dog, and it’s not one right way to use social media. As long as you stay nice towards each other it’s ok to be fully transparent, only post perfect inspirational content, only post pictures, explain everything you do or keep your methods a secret and only showing the result. We all chose who we want to follow – and the variety is refreshing! All cannot be judged after your standard, newbies or people with another method than you must have their space creating content of their choice without you creating a judging environment. By doing this we create an illusion of how there is a right and a wrong when it comes to social media and training dogs.
Focus on what you want to fill your channel with and inspire to instead of focusing on trying to rant about how others do all the time – follow people you want to follow and accept that we’re all in this for different reasons and have different skills. We all can learn from each other, no one sits with all the answers – and the ones ranting can absolutely be good trainers – but I lose all respect when they show this narrow minded mentality and can’t wrap their head around how we all, like the dogs we train, are individuals with an own agenda, own goals, own relationship and priorities with our dogs.
In my world it’s simple:
Be nice, stay humble
Ask, don’t question – that’ll give you answers instead of a defence
As long as the dog is happy and well being, we’re all good
Live, and let live. Support each other even if you’re not going the same way. Learn from each other. Social media is amazing, pick your cherries and know that your cherries might be totally different from mine – and that’s the charm. There are many ways to Rome, I hope we all make it!
Now I am done talking about others, throwing rocks in the glasshouse – walking out of the glasshouse and closing the door. Now.