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Combatting Imposter Syndrome When Training Your Teenage Dog

Combatting Imposter Syndrome When Training Your Teenage Dog

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a "fraud." How does this relate to me and my teenage dog, I hear you ask?

Very often we work with guardians of teenage dogs who experience feelings of failure and doubt, they feel like their dog would be better off elsewhere and they are not doing enough of the right training to support their dog. Often this is down to feeling like they lack experience and expertise. However, by embracing the challenges and following a few effective strategies, you can combat imposter syndrome during this training phase and become a confident and successful dog guardian for your beloved pet.

Acknowledge Your Achievements

Imposter syndrome often emerges due to a feeling of inadequacy or the need to measure up to preconceived standards, which is often made worse by the fact that we can access thousands of resources at the tip of our fingers. It's essential to recognise your progress as a dog guardian and acknowledge the milestones you have achieved. Write down the successful moments, no matter how small, and celebrate them. Keep a journal documenting your journey with your teenage dog, noting how you both have grown and improved together. Take lots of photos and videos so you can visually remind yourself how well you are doing and how much progress you are making.

Embrace Continuous Learning

One of the core contributors to imposter syndrome is the belief that you don't know enough or aren't skilled enough. Instead of letting this mindset paralyse you, in to doing nothing. Take it as an opportunity to invest in continuous learning. Attend dog training workshops, seminars, or enrol in training courses to strengthen your knowledge and gain confidence. Remember, dog training is an ongoing process, and even experienced dog trainers are always learning and adapting their methods. Since Covid there are multiple ways to train from in person to online and a with a variety of budgets catered for so there really is something for everyone.

Seek Support and Guidance

Don't hesitate to seek support from dog training professionals in the field when you encounter challenges or doubts. Join local dog training clubs or online communities where you can connect with others who share your passion and experience. By sharing your experiences and learning from others, you'll realise that everyone faces obstacles and has room for improvement. Encouragement and advice from experienced trainers can boost your confidence and help you overcome imposter syndrome.

Focus on your dogs progress;

Its super easy to get caught up on social media watching continuous reels or TikTok videos of other pet dog owners or professional dog trainers and before you know it. You are comparing your five month old cockerpoo to a world champion agility star and thinking why is my dog not doing that yet. Imposter syndrome revolves around our own insecurities and self-doubt. Shift your attention from your fears and focus on your dog's progress and achievements. Celebrate every step forward your teenage dog takes and acknowledge how your training efforts have positively impacted their behaviour. Seeing the results of your hard work will boost your confidence and remind you that you are making a difference in your dog's life.

Embrace Trial and Error

Training a teenage dog is an unpredictable process, and you may face setbacks or encounter difficulties along the way. Remember that trial and error are normal and an essential part of the learning process for both you and your dog. Embrace the mistakes and view them as opportunities to gather valuable insights. Each setback can help you fine-tune your training methods and develop a deeper understanding of your dog's needs.

Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself during this training journey. Accept that mistakes and setbacks are inevitable and that it's okay to feel uncertain at times. Practice self-compassion by reminding yourself that you are doing your best and that it's a learning process for both you and your dog. Treat yourself with the same patience, understanding, and kindness you would extend to a friend in a similar situation.

Celebrate Small Wins

Sometimes we get caught up in our perception of the big goals we want to achieve that we overlook the small wins. Celebrate even the tiniest victories along the way. Whether it's your dog responding to a command, mastering a new trick, or displaying improved behaviour, acknowledge and reward these small wins. These moments of success will remind you of your competence and progress, combating imposter syndrome and boosting your confidence as a trainer. Additionally, those small steps are the ones that help you climb the largest mountains. So, remember that they count to, in my book the small steps are the ones that count most.

Remember to have fun

Often imposter syndrome gets in the way of just having fun with our dogs-we focus to heavily on results based training and forget why we got a dog in the first place. It is right to sometimes feel isolated when things are not going right, but that is then the best time to take a rest-go for a walk to your favourite place, play find it in the garden, have a game of tug, learn a new trick. All of these things help to build a strong bond and relationship with your teenage dog. In addition to this, remember that your dog isn’t giving you a hard time. They are having a hard time. Their bodies are going through a huge amount of growth and development and their brain is undergoing a huge rewiring. This rewiring disrupts decision making and impulse control and we see an increase in risk taking behaviour as a result. But clear, consistent, ongoing training will really help here.

Remember, imposter syndrome is common and can affect anyone. By embracing your journey as a trainer to your own dog, seeking support, focusing on progress, and practicing self-compassion, you can combat imposter syndrome and develop into a confident and successful trainer for your teenage dog. Stay dedicated, patient, and enjoy the bond you create with your furry friend throughout the training process.

If you would like any support with Imposter syndrome or help with your teenage dog please give the office a ring. Alternatively you can join one of our in person courses HERE or online courses HERE