Everyone has to ask for advice at some point. We simply don’t know ALL the answers to ALL the problems.
But before you start asking for advice, stop and think…
1) Are you ready for peoples’ opinions?
Maybe you are wrong, maybe you aren’t…but are you ready to hear what other people think? If you don’t have an open mind going into it, you may miss something wonderful. Did someone suggest a training method or a tool that you aren’t willing to use? If you say no before they even explain their reasoning, you won’t understand their methodology behind their answer. If you want someone to give you their time by answering your question, the least you can do is listen with an open mind. Understand, this is NOT the same as when someone gives you an unsolicited opinion. But when YOU ask for advice, be prepared to listen…to everything and everyone before making a decision.
If you’re wrong, be prepared…the truth hurts. Maybe you’ve completely messed something up and someone (if they’re being truthful) will tell you. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not. But, maybe, most of what you are doing is correct and it just took someone from the “outside” to see the issue. Either way, if you aren’t prepared to listen and HEAR, then don’t ask.
2) Do you really need advice or are you just looking for validation?
Yes, sometimes it may be a combination of the two things. Where you “think” you are doing something correctly (or handling a problem the right way) and you want to see what other people think of your methods. But, if you are just looking for a pat on the back, don’t bother asking.
Unfortunately, this is the reason I have left almost every dog training group on Facebook. I enjoyed seeing peoples’ posts and watching other peoples’ dogs, but when someone asked for assistance, it became a bloodbath of people trying to prove everyone else wrong. So, in the end, I (and many others) simply won’t answer at all. The newbies seem to know everything and the experienced people seem to think that no one else’s opinion matters or is worth considering.
3) Who is the best person to ask?
There really isn’t a “best” person, but the only rule is that the person needs to have more experience than you. And don’t evaluate a person solely on titles. If you have having a problem with your little terrier’s retrieve, the local “professional OTCH trainer” who has worked with countless Border Collies or Golden Retrievers may not be the best person to ask. It does not mean you can’t ask them, but I’d also seek out a successful terrier person to ask for advice. And, again, “successful” does not mean titles. It may simply mean you love how their little terrier does a retrieve.
Be prepared for a different answer from every person you ask. Thus, don’t ask very many people. Ask the people you trust, the people you respect and, above all, the people with experience.
4) What are your reasons for ignoring advice?
Trust me, you do not have to listen to every piece of advice you are given. You know your dog and your steps of training better than anyone. But, if you are ignoring advice simply because it is not what you wanted to hear or you do not like the answer, then you are never going to learn. Instead, think through the person’s advice and make sure you understand exactly what they are trying to say. Maybe, after you understand it, you may be able to adjust the advice to your particular method of training. If you don’t understand, then ask questions!
Don’t made decisions based on emotion. We are great at coming up with excuses for not listening to “good” advice, simply because we are too close to the topic at hand.
But, in the end, trust yourself. A mistake is simply a mistake. Even if the advice does not work completely, maybe it addressed a portion of the problem. Or, maybe the advice will not work right now, but file it away for later, just in case. Above everything, keep working towards your end goal and surround yourselves with people who want to see you succeed.
Train hard. Play harder.