Be An Emotionally Intelligent Dog Trainer

Sometimes it’s what you can’t see that matters most.

Success is based on a lot of things, one of which are “invisible skills”. Traits like personality, how well we communicate, and our ability to show empathy, negotiate, and lead. These non-technical skills are our emotional intelligence. Also known as “EQ”, and it’s this unseen mental quality that just may be the deciding factor between a good leader and a great one.

dog in park

What is emotional intelligence?

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” It’s being good with people or having good people skills. But emotional intelligence isn’t just about how well we interact with each other. It’s also about how well we manage and interpret our own emotions. And it can actually make you a better dog trainer.

dog in park

We’re all human, even if you’re a dog trainer.

No matter how patient you think you are, there will be stressful training days or situations outside of your control. That’s why emotional intelligence is crucial. Emotionally intelligent people are able to keep their feelings in check and make well-informed decisions, and are incredibly resilient under pressure.

By understanding and managing the emotions in yourself, you can create a better training environment for your dog, a better training experience for your dog, and cultivate a relationship with your dog you can be proud of. Next time anxiety, stress, or frustration appear, harness them and put them to work building something great!

two dogs




Time: The Currency You Need To Buy

I’ve been trying to plan my dog training, my workout routine and the tasks for my stay-at-home job. All while starting a new part-time job that takes me away from my home office. It’s become a good example of how time is a currency and how it buys us the ability to be productive.

Everyone has a growing to-do list of things to accomplish. Things that take time. But a good to-do list comes down to planning and prioritization so you can get more done, in less time, with greater impact. A good to-do list maximizes time and lets you be productive.

There’s a simple method I use to help optimize my to-do list that begins by sitting down to strategize how I will spend my time. All it takes is a few minutes at the beginning of my day.


day planner showing plans

Planning the day

I try to define the priority tasks from those that can wait.

I triage my tasks by listing my top three priority tasks. Then work backward to create a plan of attack that helps me make sure that I spend my time wisely on these high-impact tasks. This lets me be more focused and motivates me to find creative solutions for the priority problems or issues I need to tackle and helps me put those lower priority things lower down on my list. Think the Pareto Principle.

I ask myself what would have had to happen for me to say, “Today will be a success?”

At the beginning of the day, I think about what I need to accomplished and how I will accomplished it. I note how I can leveraged my strengths, what I need to complete important goals, and how I can fill my day with tasks or people that will energized me. I carefully note the many mini-success strategies I can use during the day so I can fulfill my tasks and goals efficiently and effectively.

I block time for ‘deep work’. 

I guard my time. Distractions and busywork will rush in to fill any vacuum if I’m not careful. This is where it helps to pre-commit chunks of time throughout my week to accomplish deep work. The kind of stuff that is cognitively demanding and requires concentration and uninterrupted focus. Then I respect the time I set aside to get this work done. Yes, that mean I have to get better at saying “no” and making clear my boundaries. But without time to hunker down and concentrate, these type of tasks suffer.


gantt chart of web development plan

Project planning

Time is valuable.

My to-do list is valuable. Time is a valuable currency. So I plan my time wisely so I can accomplish as many tasks as possible in the little time I have each day. It’s the least I can do for my day…show the time I have some lovin’.

dog paws with heart of kibble

Showing the love

Learn to Love Lifelong Learning

When I ‘googled’ the question, “What is a lifelong learner?”, I found this definition: “the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons”. Lifelong learners are motivated to learn and develop because they want to. They love to learn. It’s that simple.

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning

It seems silly to spell out the benefits, but for starters…you can never tell where your newly acquired expertise will lead you or where it will come in handy. Knowledge prepares you for opportunities when those opportunities come around. Then there’s the obvious advantage that learning keeps our brains active and engaged and this has cognitive benefits down the line. Why wouldn’t you want to pursue lifelong learning? Luckily, it really is easy to get engaged in lifelong learning.


online learning?

The Ease of Life Long Learning

The rise of online education has made lifelong learning a real possibility for everyone, no matter where or how you live. That’s because online learning lets you learn from home. Plus, you can take online classes at whatever time of day works best for you, keeping you in control of your schedule.

I’m taking an on-line agility course since I can’t get the kind of education I need where I live. On-line learning is pretty great; the ease, the community support, and the access to information whenever I need it. Ultimately it’s helping me be a better dog trainer. I finally understand how animals learn, how I learn, how I can improve not just my dogs agility skills but her strength, coordination and flexibility. It’s all encompassing. It’s access to knowledge I need, when I need it.


never too much information


let the learning begin!

Don’t Stop Learning!

As dog training evolves, as we have access to more and more knowledge about how animals learn, I hope to be able to learn as much as I can. I want to continue to grow and learn. Because not only do I love learning all I can about dog training, I love being a lifelong learner.