Most involved in teaching dog obedience classes like to think of themselves as professionals. As professionals it is important that we conduct ourselves as such. This includes our dress, speech and the way we conduct class.
First impressions are very important and what students see first is what we look like. Let’s face it, ”dog people” are sometimes not the best dressed. Instructors should be neatly dressed and well groomed. Because we may handle dogs, have to get on the floor or just want to be comfortable is not an excuse to wear grubby clothes. Instructors should dress neatly yet appropriately Club shirts are an excellent idea and they also provide instant recognition of someone in authority.
The way we express ourselves says a great deal about us. Among dog people certain language is acceptable yet not appropriate for the general public. We should be conscious of this and avoid the use of expletives which are not needed to make points. If we have offended a student because or our language or appearance, he may be less likely to return to class and we have failed to be in a position 10 help that student.
Classes should be well organized with set goals for the week and total session. Instructors should be on time and prepared so as to set a good example for the students. If more that one person is helping with a class, each should clearly know his responsibility. All efforts should be made to remember the students name and not just the dog’s. After all, it is the student with whom we must communicate. Helpers should pay attention to what is going on in class and avoid congregating to carry on their own conversations. This is disruptive and disrespectful. Less than kind statements should never be made about a student or his dog in the presence of other students or instructors. Wait until the students are gone to discuss problems. The same holds true if you have a disagreement with another instructor. Wait until class is over. If there is a problem with a teaching method, call a break then discuss the problem.
Another aspect of professionalism is continuing education. We are all students with plenty to learn. We should take advantage of book, seminars and workshops to strengthen our knowledge. It’s easy to get set in our ways and ignore something new that might be better than what we are currently using and comfortable with.
Sometimes we get a little lax in our dress, language, conduct and a desire to try something new. As a result we offer a less than sparkling example of what dogs and those interested in dogs are all about. If we think of ourselves as professionals, let’s act that way.
©1985 W. Herbert Morrison, III