Ep 5 – Behind the Scenes of a K9 Training Business: Employee Management, Struggles & Successes with Szymon & AJ

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Hi, everybody. Welcome to source all things, working dogs in this podcast, where we have a very special guest on this week. Oh, I’m excited to have them because he doesn’t know this. I’ll share a little secret. I learned a lot from him and he inspires me in a lot of different ways. So I’m glad to have him on and I’m going to give him about three minutes because I know he’s a little bit long winded.

So I’m going to start the timer, give him about three minutes to tell us who he is and a little bit about himself. All right, my name is Szymon Sochacki. I’m a lead trainer over here at Custom K 9 Unlimited., a little bit about myself. So my name is Simon Sahotsky. I’m a Marine Corps veteran. I actually came to CCU, approximately, I want to say about two years ago.

I came through the explosives handler course and shortly after that I enrolled in the full service trainer course. , my origin, [00:01:00] if some of you see my name, looks oddly spelled, but, , let it be known, you know, my family’s from Poland. I’m a Polish immigrant. It’s S Z Y M O N, , Simon, but I go by Simon. Some people call me Animal, but , I was born in Poland. My family came, , to this country when I was about two years old. And, , I grew up in Chicago, ,

I was an athlete, as you should know. , I know Hunter knows that very well, but, I was an athlete. I went to college on a scholarship and after a semester,. I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do in college and I don’t want to waste money in it, so I went ahead and joined the Marine Corps, got to travel a little bit, did that for four years, and, , shortly before I got out, I got married, and my wife’s from California, so I lived in California for a little bit, I worked for the Navy as a contractor during that time, and then kind of got bored of that, so [00:02:00] after that, I decided to go back to school and try college again, give it a second shot.

I just wasn’t engaging in it. So, I ended up switching majors and then transferring over to a school in colorado and I was going for an engineering degree in colorado and , After covid,, came about kind of stirred some things up financially, so went back to work in construction.

And, while I was working construction over there in Colorado, I had a coworker that he had a it was a Dutch shepherd and he did like a 9 street league. Yes, I

really sparked me. It sparked some interest in me and, working with canines. And that’s where, after , catching his dog and working some detection stuff with him, I ended up finding out I had a friend in the military that went through this course and he [00:03:00] told me about it and I just thought it was a freaking awesome opportunity.

So I went ahead, , came to the explosives handler course and, , right after I got out of it, I was doing some executive protection work, , during the governor’s race and doing some, canine jobs with that dog. But after the governor’s race kind of wind down and that campaign was over, , I ended up, coming back to CCU and just doing the trainer’s course.

And then after that got hired on . So that that’s pretty much there is, yeah, that’s your, your whole life story. Yeah. Yeah. I took you from the beginning. So Well, that’s great because it gives us a perspective, you know, it gives us a perspective of who you are, where you’ve come from the journey that you took to get to this point, and it’s been a, a journey, even the journey from when you first started here at CCU to where you are today and, , you [00:04:00] know, I’m a man of faith and part of that I believe in is that there are certain things that happen in life.

And there’s no explanation why they just do, and it’s because we’re being led by. By our Lord and things happen for a very specific reason. And it may only be for a season who knows, but at the end of the day, we are where we are today because of that. And, I’m glad to see you as you progress through your journey.

Of learning, gaining knowledge and the things you kind of do that nobody else sees. And, I tell people this all the time, especially students. bUt oftentimes even with staff members, I watch people from a distance and I always watch people and how they are when nobody, when they think nobody’s watching them, because that’s how you find out people’s true character, what their intentions are, and kind of how they are, without [00:05:00] being pushed or.

Without that, and without that encouragement that has to come from somebody else. And, so there’s some things that I know that I’ve seen and that I listen and hear that. I know that you do to prepare yourself and to again, gain as much knowledge as you can for this industry and for the students that you have the opportunity.

To train and teach and inspire. So that’s great. And while I’m going to talk a little bit about that in this next hour, two hours, and based on your long winded introduction, it’s going to be a three hour podcast. Which, guys, , buckle down and get ready. If you want to go and stop this, pause it, go get some popcorn, or plan a vacation where it’s a 10 hour drive, we’re going to have this opportunity to talk to Szymon during that entire drive.

Don’t forget to use the bathroom. Very important. Alright, or at least bring a cup with you.

So, Szymon, let’s jump [00:06:00] into a couple of things. You know, I always take the perspective on these talks with these. And we’ve had some great people on so far and we will continue to have great people on this cast. , but we always learn something from each and every person. And I took a perspective with you and where we’re going to take this today so that those that are listening can also get a perspective and learn something from you.

Because I think that’s very important. We don’t want to waste people’s time. All right. All right, so we’re going to talk about the administrative side to canine training, which is again one of those topics that are not often discussed. Maybe it’s because not very many people do it. I don’t know. But in my experience, the administrative side is what Not only keeps us out of trouble, keeps us grounded and focused on the plans that we have for each and every client, each and [00:07:00] every dog, but also those that we have an opportunity to manage and those that are on our team.

And there’s some things that we do here that help us to do that, such as our morning meeting every morning. 10 minutes, but we go over everything that we have going on for the day and kind of prepare for that so that the entire team is on the same page. So we’re going to talk a little bit about that administrative side, and I know that’s not a glorified topic.

A lot of times, but again, we’re trying to teach those that are listening. We’re trying to help those that are listening to think about things in a different way, maybe than they were trained, and also take things that can make them better at their functions as a trainer, as a boss, as somebody that’s operating or running a facility like ours.

And I say this often, if I can teach them one thing, [00:08:00] then I’ve done my job. And I know that you have a lot to teach, so we’re going to keep it focused in these areas today. Absolutely. Yeah. , administrative stuff. , I’ll be honest. Not my favorite. I’m just really bad at working behind a computer. , I mean, I’ve always admitted that, but it is, , it’s a vital aspect of how a company functions.

And like you had alluded to, you know, it covers our butts at the end of the day. , everything from how much dogs are getting fed to medication administered. Yeah. Dog weights, , being able to keep track of that. And most what I think is the most important aspect, , training records and training notes, especially with clients and keeping them up to date and keeping, , all that organized because, you know, you got to know where you left off with the dog and. one big thing I do is before I have a one on one session with any of my clients, it’s something I like to look over [00:09:00] real quick and it just really helps keep me organized. And I think the clients really appreciate it as well that, you know, hey, we’re progressing the dog. We’re not just going out there doing the same stuff.

And I’m having to ask them questions because, as a trainer, I really. I really don’t like to do that to my clients as them like, Hey, where we look, where did we leave off on that one? , I like to be prepared for that. So preparation definitely is key. Well, yeah, it brings validity to what you do, right?

If I showed up as a client to an establishment for training and I hadn’t been in training or hadn’t seen them at least for the last month and they don’t even know what we’re doing or we’re doing the same stuff that we were doing last time, just hanging out. Underneath the tree in the shade and getting a little bit of training in, whereas that approach makes you hyper focused.

You’re not wasting their time and as soon as they hit the ground, they hit the ground running with very [00:10:00] specific and targeted training session. Is that correct? Yeah, absolutely. , The clients are paying me, you know, for my time and with the limited time that I have, I want to be able to maximize and ensure that every second that I’m spending with that client and their dog is effective and progressing their dog.

, and there’s no low in between because, you know, whatever time I have with them, , if it’s an hour at the end of that hour session, hey, I probably got students or another client that I got to get with. So,. It just really helps me, get things moving along and moving smoothly, you know, and I mean, I said, it’s not my favorite thing, which, you know, I’m being honest about, but that’s one of the things about me is even with aspects that I don’t enjoy, I really try to push myself and get good at them so that it’s not such a big burden on me, , at the end of the day, because ultimately you got to enjoy what you do, , for you to be good at it.

And, , You know, the more I see how [00:11:00] much administrative stuff when I do it, how it benefits me, , the more I admire it, and the more I’m willing to do it at the end of the day, you know. Yeah, you know, that is also something that takes up time., but that little bit of time that we spend in the foreground, , will greatly save us time in the background when something happens or when let’s just say as an example, a trainer changes roles to another client and that client’s left over to you or another trainer.

We have full documentation of the progress that that dog has made. Or that client is made no matter how big or small it is and how we can come together as a team to take them further in their training. And so I 100 percent see the positives to it. And you can look at it from my perspective. I’m paying a trainer to do paperwork when they could be with a client making money.[00:12:00]

So, if you just take it on that face value. You know, 30 minutes to 45 minutes doing paperwork for every client after each training session. whereas we could probably double our profits just by cutting out paperwork. But the value of that is so great and that’s the reason why we invest the money per se in making sure those things are being done and being done properly.

And we have checks and balances to make that happen. Yeah, absolutely. ,

and I think it’s very important for them because they want to see. What I’m seeing from not only just the dog, but what I’m seeing for them from them when they’re handling the dog and in my training session notes, you know, I like to give my clients a little bit of homework. I try and. you know, mold it to something that they can manage.

, I don’t try to give them something really extensive because I know people are busy. They got things [00:13:00] going on at home. , you know, they got work kids they gotta take care of. So just a little simple, you know, short sessions that they could do with their dog and things that they can focus on, , away, , away from at the actual training field.

, well, it’s a value plus, right? And, you know, we always look at how we add value. And even with testing and other forms of paperwork that we’ve that we’ve implemented into our courses, this administrative side that we’re talking about right now, implementing that.

Into the transparency of what we do in training and such bring so much value to the client because it’s one more Avenue that they can learn from. So, when they’re on leash, you’re telling them what to do in between sessions. You’re coaching them and mentoring them and giving them tips and things that you saw during that session.

But then later on the next day or so, they get to go [00:14:00] back and regurgitate that through. Your training report that you’ve sent them. So it’s one more form of reiteration on the learning process for an adult. And even with that, I’m sure you’ve had some clients that maybe didn’t follow the plan that you heard about, or that I told you about, and then you were able to reference that paperwork again and say, you remember when I wrote this in your training notes, this is what you should be doing.

And it gives them that opportunity to go back and read it. And regurgitate it and play it back in their head on what you were actually teaching them. Is that correct? Or what? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And , it’s something that I get to use to hold them accountable at the end of the day as well, because, you know, I try and be very upfront and as clear as I can with them.

People have this misconception that with dogs, you know, you can just send them to the [00:15:00] trainer and we just wave our magic wand. And it’s true. You know, you give it back and it’s just push button, you know, so, it’s, it’s always fun having that conversation with clients and making sure that they understand that a.

, it’s not a lot of the work is going to be actually done by you at the end of the day to get this dog to listen because I can put all those pieces together, but you’re the one that’s going to have to stabilize it. And you’re the one that’s going to have to continue to progress it and work it for all this, all, all these demands or wishes that you have for them to play out how you’re hoping to, you know, and, , being able to hold them accountable and ensure that they’re doing that is a big part of the process, especially with my one on one clients and my board and trains.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, the joy of this is we have voice of reason that’s with us today and I bring voice of reason out, which is Mia Simpson.[00:16:00] , and I bring her up because she started off as a client with her dogs. Right, and you were working with her, you and Alec were. So, from your perspective, Maya, what do you think about that?

What do you think about the time that’s put in after you leave to put together those training records? Are they valuable? Are they not? Are they a waste of time? Do people just. Get them in their email box and then they trash them. Or what’s your thoughts on that from a client’s perspective? So I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that, especially whenever I was just going as a client having those training records.

After a set and telling me what was done, which I was there, but just having that to refresh after the set. And then also having that homework to know, okay, so before our next session, here are the things I need to work on so we can keep progressing in the direction we need to go. Okay. Yeah. And that’s really our intention.

And when we came up with this in a way to be transparent on everything that’s done with a dog when they’re at our [00:17:00] facility or with our trainers, you know, our intentions was to be transparent. Lend another opportunity for somebody to learn from from that because we, we know the value of that, but also to assist our training staff if they ever have to go back and we need to problem solve something, we can always go back to those records and go, okay, let’s review what we’ve done.

Let’s review where these problems started, and then let’s target the root cause of these problems in order to fix them. So, it’s a valuable tool all the way around. It just takes time, and that’s what gets people caught up, is the time and sitting down and doing them. And we’ve had some problems like that, Simon, with some trainers that just didn’t want to sit down and do their paperwork, right?

Absolutely. , I think it’s actually funny we brought this up because I had my trainer students pull out their, , Their training records for evals, I did a surprise eval only to find that, you know, they weren’t keeping up to [00:18:00] date on them. And it’s, it’s something that, you know, especially trainer students, when they come through, they don’t really, I think they just haven’t had the.

Time doing it enough to understand how valuable it is that they kind of blow it off and see it as like, Oh, you know, they’re making us do all this extra fricking work. Like it takes too much time, but you know, it’s an op, it’s a good opportunity to practice. , right. And get those get those repetitions.

And because when you do go off on your own and you’re running your own business, you’re going to see the value of that. And you’re going to see the value of, you know. Or have that understanding of exactly what you need to put in there that’s gonna help you out. Because I’ve, it was funny enough, I had a student come with me after, you know, , hearing their spiel about, you know, they don’t got time to do record keeping.

And I actually, , had a student come with me to go do a vet [00:19:00] visit with one of our clients. And, , the vet asked me a question. And I went through my, , weekly updates, and I was able to pinpoint, you know, exactly when the issue had started arising. And, you know, that student actually got that, like, aha moment, like, oh, that’s why they make us do that.

I was like… Yeah, because I mean, one thing I don’t like doing or I don’t like is not being able to have an answer at the end of the day. I don’t like to sit there with the, and the, and the, you know, and then the shoots, you know, I like to have an answer at all times. And if I don’t have an answer, I like to have that resource where I can go to.

And that’s, that’s my training notes right there, you know, yeah, absolutely. And, , you know, it. Okay. It doesn’t mean anything until it does. And that one time we get caught with your pants down per se, you’re wishing you had spent the [00:20:00] extra time to do it. And, you know, we learned from. All the experiences that we’ve had over the years, I’ve learned from working around other trainers, having trainers work for us, having, you know, many clients over the, over the number of years and sometimes hard lessons hurt the most when you know you should have been doing something and then you weren’t.

And then all of a sudden it comes back to bite you. And I don’t like to get caught like that. You know, I like to take every precaution possible so that we can prevent as much turmoil, if you will, as possible, not just for CCU, but really for our trainers, , because when you begin to get into those shaky grounds, and you’ve got clients that are yelling at you and things of that nature.

Then you wish you would have spent the extra time in doing that and , so we like to just lend our experience to [00:21:00] others. So they’re not or they don’t have to go through what we had to go through to learn the most valuable lessons. Right? Yeah, absolutely. , yeah. And I, I understand how much time, especially during the course, you know, those training records take, but, you know, ultimately, if you’re dedicated and you want to do this and you want to do it well, you know, you’re going to put in that time and get those repetitions where ultimately,

at the end of the day, like you, like you mentioned, like, you may not see that value right here in the now, but like, you’re going to, you’re going to wish you did them if you did it, you know, yeah, that’s right. Yeah, it’s, , you know, it brings more work, but I think it saves you time in the long run.

Realistically. Yeah, absolutely. So in your current role, Simon, , let me ask you something. Tell us some things that you learn now about dealing with [00:22:00] not just, , from a personal standpoint, , but the personnel that you now have to manage and also maybe some client management tips that you can give us.

That have helped you that you’ve learned over this period of time now. Yeah. Well, I’m going to tie this into some relationship advice. , I think this goes well, you know, if you’re married with your significant other. Wow. Oh, my goodness. I think all across the board. I mean, this is just life experience and something that, you know, Thank you.

When we work in a business where you have to interact with people, , communication is one of the most important things, being clear about what you’re trying to communicate to the other person, whether it’s your client or one of your trainers, a student, or, like I mentioned earlier, your wife, you want to have clear communication.

That’s something that, you know, early on, [00:23:00] especially for my first time dealing with clients, I kind of, you know, jumbled that up. , and I’m famously known for giving away free training, , because I didn’t communicate very clearly, you know, so, , that’s, that’s something just, you know. I think it goes beyond canine.

I think it’s just good advice, especially when interacting with people. You just, you got to be clear about your communication at the end of the day. Wow. That’s, that’s 25, 000 worth right there. And all that. I don’t think the people listening were expecting to come here and get life advice too. Irish device.

Simon, you’re just pulling it all out today. Yeah. Well, I mean, you haven’t been in one of my trainer’s courses, but you know, I, I do give life advice up there as well. Yeah. Well, I will say you’re the most prized possessed, , trainer, , that we have. And, , and what I mean by that, you get the most gifts. So I don’t know what you’re doing, , during your courses, [00:24:00] but.

Your students absolutely love you. I’ll say that until you get your four stars and then you know how that goes. Yeah, those, those four stars kind of stung, but I think I’m, , I’m catching up on ground. That’s okay. Yeah. , you know, I, I get the reports and the stats every month and, , yeah, you have a long way to go, but you’re, you’re Chipping away, you know, success of approximation.

You’re starting low and building your way up. You have no other choice but to move up in the world. Yeah, because you started at the bottom. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I still haven’t reached my prime where, , you know, you on the other hand, you’re, , you’ve already hit that prime and you’re on a slope decline.

That’s just nature of things. So absolutely. I got, I got plenty to look forward to, you know. I wish I could say the same for you. Yeah, hence the reason why I’m sitting behind a computer now talking training instead of actually doing it, right? Absolutely. Alright, I’ll take that. [00:25:00] Now, you know, you talked about communication.

Is there any other areas that you had to learn, that with dealing with maybe other trainers? That are under your control now, or even clients doesn’t I guess those go kind of hand in hand per se, but there are any other things that you’ve learned, I, I think 1 of the big things. I mean, and it goes along with communication.

I think that’s the main theme here, but, , definitely definitely need to follow up. , whether it’s with a client to see how they’re doing with their dog, or, , if I task out one of my trainers, I task them, I need to follow up and, hey, get some progress, get some status, . I think that’s really important.

, not so much that I want to micromanage, but, you know, I think all across the board, I think, you know, even us ourselves, we tend to get a little complacent and we need to get some stress, you know, not. [00:26:00] Overly stressed people out, but you need a good moderate amount of stress throughout your day, you know, , to make sure that you’re working efficiently.

And I mean, that goes for me. , I think 1 thing that the Marine Corps always talked about was complacency kills. And, you know, if we get a little too comfortable, or we allow. You know, our staff to get a little too comfortable, you start to see things kind of fall apart and, you know, a little added stress checking in with people and making sure they’re, hey, they’re following up on what they need to do.

Yeah, you know, I see it when I’m not at the facility every day, or I’m not involved every single day on the day to day stuff. I’m always. And I’ve always been like this. I pay attention to the small things because I always believe that the small things lead to bigger things or bigger problems. And that’s.

In relationship to training, that’s in relationship to management, that’s in relationship to a lot of things. So, when I start [00:27:00] seeing the small things that are not being done, I start to get kind of, , I guess, uneasy. And I start to look at other things more in depth. And I learned that early on in my career.

, I had a unit manager that I worked for. That was very much the same way. And he used to always tell me the small things is what’s going to get you because they always lead to something bigger. And even when we’re talking about dogs, even when we’re talking about, , personnel and not doing the small things like the administrative tasks that need to be done and missing those, it just grows.

And, you know, we can think about, and I use the analogy in shooting. At the three yard line, if you’re an eighth of an inch off target off center mass, you’re fine. But as time progresses and you move back away from that target, Imagine at the 300 meter mark, and you’re an eighth of an inch off target. By the time that bullet reaches that target, [00:28:00] you’re so far off that target that you don’t even know where the, where center mass is anymore.

So I think the same thing goes for training and administrative task and management. That if we don’t pay attention to the small things. Those are the things that eventually grow and get us so far of target that we don’t even know where we started. So I’m a firm believer in that. And you hit the nail on the head on just staying on top of those things and checking up, not that you don’t trust people, but you’re just going to verify and make sure those things are getting done.

And if we do it in a professional way, if we do it in a manner that people understand the reasons why it’s. Never a bad thing. I have found in my experience that the people that have problems with that or the people that are trying to get away with not doing things because if you just build habits, they become easy. .

We learn from our students. We learn from others that are around us, good or bad, right? What are some areas [00:29:00] that you may struggle with the most now? What are you doing to, to try to fix those areas or work on those areas? Are you running away from ’em? Yeah, I’m scared. So anytime I get scared I try and run away from ’em and I just push ’em off to the background.

You know, like I mentioned with the administrative thing, like I knew that was something like, , I struggle with, that’s what I like to get ahead of. I like to get ahead of things, just do it. , I. Kind of look at it like tracking when I was first learning how to track, , I hated it.

You know, I did not like tracking whatsoever. I was like, man, there’s these gyro spiders everywhere. , there’s snakes in the grass. We’re running with these dogs. , dude, I did not like it. What’s but, you know, it was something that, you know, if I got a bit clearer under once I got a clearer understanding of what we’re doing and, .

Yeah. You know, I put, I continue to push myself like, Hey, I want to learn more about tracking, you know, and I [00:30:00] would read a lot. I would, , go ahead and get those sets. And especially when I was even in the trainers course, I volunteered like, Hey, like, I want to get these sets in and I pushed myself. To do and I got ahead of it and it ended up being one of the things that like I really like to teach, you know, , I mean, it’s still not my favorite thing to teach, but it’s one of those things where it’s like, man, I can, I can honestly say I can go out there, teach students how to track and still enjoy it, you know, so, , but as far as some things that, you know, I struggle with, , day to day, I think.

You know, where we work and the people that we come in contact with, , we, we come in contact with people from a lot of different backgrounds, you know, , a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of different places, a lot of different police departments, a lot of different, . , branches of service and it’s sometimes, you know, when you get a group of, , students or you get a [00:31:00] client from that might not be from around here or someplace that I’m familiar with, it’s just trying to, , Trying to work with these different personalities, you know, and not trying to take certain things too personal and trying to have an understanding of exactly, you know, where that person came from.

And honestly, , that’s something that you, AJ, . Really helped guide me through because I think I struggled with that in the beginning, you know, and there’s situations where you had to, you know, pull me aside and bring me back to Earth and like, Hey, man, like, you know, you got to think about it this way.

And I really didn’t have that perspective. , until, you know, you brought that to my attention. So, , a lot of thanks goes to you with that. And I still struggle with it at times, but yeah, You know, I think back to the conversations we’ve had, and it’s helped me, it’s helped guide me through some difficult situations.

Well, you know, we teach [00:32:00] through our experience, and that’s one great thing about what we all do is we use our experience to teach, whether it’s on the training field or in other facets. I’m a firm believer in that. I was once in your shoes. So I’m able to give you perspectives on how, how and what tools I use to overcome those struggles.

We are alpha males. Well, at least I am. You’re, you’re probably B plus B plus type personality. So, , we have expectations and it’s hard for us to understand a lot of times why people don’t follow the same passion or even understanding sometimes. You know, I go back to chain of command, right? Because I work under somebody that has a title.

I respect them. I follow their direction. I don’t question what they tell me, but that’s. Through my upbringing. [00:33:00] So when people question it, some things, or they don’t follow instructions the way they should, sometimes it just gets underneath our skin. And like you said, people have different perspectives and we have to take that into consideration what their perspectives were, you mentioned earlier about communication with a client.

And one of the things you were alluding to was a client that you told something to, but the way you phrased it. Was not clear and we put ourselves in the shoes of the client and we said, well, we were the client. We would have thought the same thing you knew in your head what you were trying to explain or what you meant, but that’s not the words that came out of your mouth.

And so it just brings up situations that we learn from, right? And you said, well, that’s something that I had to learn. I had to be very clear and concise in my communication. [00:34:00] And coach K said this. In an interview that I heard one time, he said, never let the message get lost in the way that you deliver it.

And I always take that to, , to heart because my background, I would always allow the delivery to mess the message up. And those are things as a young trainer, and I say young trainer, just because, , you haven’t been doing it as long as I have, those are lessons that I can teach you. And. It really helps situations rather than hinder it and we think a lot about dogs in this case as well.

Yeah, you can correct the dog all you want to. It’s going to make you feel better, but does that really change the behavior or do we need to come up with another method to help the behavior make positive change and it’s the same thing dealing with students or even staff members. Yes, we can yell, curse, scream, kick things and do all that.

But does [00:35:00] that really help the situation? Does it change the behavior? Does it make it better? Does it? Get us to a place where we can move forward in a positive manner. Most times. I’m sorry, it doesn’t. So those are lessons that I learned the hard way and I rather you not go through the same struggle. So I try to teach the same things to you guys in our approach and our considerations.

It’s not just 1 way. A lot of times it’s considering all the parties involved. So it’s good and refreshing to hear that. That’s something that you struggle with, but you are making proactive steps to change that and to overcome those and that’s great. Thank you. I think our listeners can learn from that as well.

I mean, think about your most difficult student, man. And I think we’re going to think about the same person in our head. We won’t say his name, but think about that student and the, and the struggles we went through with that guy. But think of where we are now, because [00:36:00] we, we were the professionals. In that situation, and we didn’t allow him to dictate our responses and look where we are now with that student.

Yeah, he’s still like, we’re best friends. Like, I want to. We’ll cut that out, but no, what I meant is, , no, we still talk to this day. I mean, that student, like, it was a struggle, but he’s, you know, after everything that we went through and. That’s actually when you had that conversation with me and, you know, it’s been a couple months now since we’ve had him in our course.

And honestly, like, I still talk to him about, like, once a week, you know, see how he’s doing and he reaches out to me. I still invite him out to do some training with us and, you know, couldn’t say anything bad about the guy. Like, awesome, dude. But, you know, during the course, maybe you want to pull my hair out, but at the end of [00:37:00] the day, you know, just working through that struggle, it ended up paying off.

And, you know, it’s awesome having that connection with him now as well. Well, most importantly, you didn’t lose a student and, and we often say this, you can get your point across. And come out ahead. But now you’ve lost that student for one. Now you don’t have an opportunity to teach them and to mentor them.

And then we got to think about who else is going to do that for them. Now it’s going to be another lost person out there that’s going to have a bad experience in our industry and not have the opportunity to learn. And then he thinks of it, well, everybody just turns their back on me. Everybody just doesn’t want to help me.

And now he’s stuck in a dark place by himself, but instead you salvaged that relationship. You showed him ways to respond to difficult people. And it did take them a minute, but [00:38:00] just a few weeks later, he began to see. The situation for what it was, and I commend him for that because he’s apologized time and time again, and we have to actually tell him how to stop, like, we’re way past that, man, we’re, now we’re peers, and now we have an opportunity to help each other out, and that’s an important facet.

Yeah, and I mean, I’ll credit to him, he is a very talented dog trainer too, and it’s awesome sometimes just, . , hearing from him and just, you know, getting like, you know, just bouncing ideas back off of each other, , issues that he’s having issues that I might be having. because I like having those types.

I like discussing that type of stuff, especially with my students because at the end of the day, when students graduate, like, I tell them this all the time, like, no, I want to have a relationship. When you need some help, you can come reach back out to me, you know, and I can find a way to help you because I don’t want someone leaving this campus and I’m like, man, am I glad that guy’s gone?[00:39:00]

You know, I had never had that feeling. Well, I think that’s great advice, man. And I think it gives our listeners a perspective that they may not have thought about because we get caught up. So much. And this is my business. This is the way I do things. And either the client falls in line or they get lost.

Either the dog falls in our box or they get lost. But as we’ve resonated over the last couple of episodes, we got to think outside the box. We got to figure out ways to help people help dogs and not just get everybody stuck in that box, that proverbial box, it’s only this way. It’s only one way to do things.

Unfortunately, in our industry, we have that a lot. , well, it’s only this type of training. It’s only, you can only do this, but the most success that we have with any dog or any client is figuring out ways that they best learn. And that’s a major facet of our job is, is figuring that out. [00:40:00] Yeah, absolutely.

, and like you mentioned, you know, there are a lot of people that have that, they’re stuck in that box and I think you’ve called them like subscribers. There’s plenty of names for that, but, , you know, and that’s, that’s kind of what my focus is on with my trainer students, especially as, you know, like you guys are.

You know, asking me, you know, how you do this, how you do that, but like, why don’t you ask me, you know, why do you like, why does the dog do that? You know, figure out why they’re doing certain things or Hey, why do you do it like that? Instead of asking me how, you know, And that’s something, , another thing I got to give you credit for, , that’s something you’ve always pressed is, you know, you always got to have a reason why you do something in training and you have to be able to explain why, why.

So, , that’s something that I really take to heart, especially. Well, yeah, it goes back to our experiences, right? This is one more [00:41:00] thumbs up to teaching from experience. I had trainers that taught me that just told me what to do, but by no means am I stupid. And I have pretty good common sense. That’s why I was pretty good at my job, both as a handler and in law enforcement, just because I had common sense.

Common sense tells me when things are not right. When you’re telling me stuff that just doesn’t make sense and when I question that or ask the question about it so that I have a better understanding, you can’t tell me, you lose all validity with me and we should not be teaching people things that we don’t clearly understand why they’re doing it and I can go into a whole list of the reasons why, especially from a law enforcement perspective and I just thought a little bit about this in our report writing class.

One day they may have to testify. Thank To the reasons why they’re doing something and if they don’t know why they shouldn’t be doing it [00:42:00] and if they’re learning things from us And we don’t clearly know why then we’re really doing a disservice. So that’s why we preach that so much. And a lot of that comes from my past experiences, dealing with trainers that were just telling us to do things or, you know, try this and try that, but they couldn’t explain why I stay far away from that and I encourage any trainer to just learn.

Stay in your lane and learn. Don’t be scared to say, Hey, I don’t know, but I have someone else that knows. I mean, get with them and let’s figure this thing out together. But for some reason, people are scared to do that. They think they’re going to lose clients or they’re going to lose. , lose their persona or something.

I don’t, I don’t even know why, but they just feel like they can’t do that. I’m okay with that. I’ve been doing this a lot of years, but I don’t know everything and I’m okay going, Hey, let me get with somebody else. Let me get them involved and let’s see [00:43:00] what we can, what we can come up with. Cause I’m stumped here.

All right, we’re at the five hour mark. Simon, we’ve been going, , and I see you’re a little bit dehydrated and all that. , but before we go, obviously, we need to learn some things. So if you had some tips to give to someone that may not be in the industry or maybe looking to become a trainer, , what, what would those tips be?

Give us three tips that you would give them three tips. Um well, right off the top of my head. I know. , , one good one. , go out there and watch. , this is something that I tell my students all the time. Get out there, get out there and just. I mean, even if you’re not involved in a set, go watch a set and pay close attention to, , the dog’s behavior, because I think that’s a major facet, of dog [00:44:00] training is understanding that dog’s behavior and what that dog’s communicating when they’re either working or doing obedience.

That’s something that, you know, you, you hear of certain behaviors, like, for example, recently, once I started reading or working with private client dogs, you know, I was just used to working with the working dogs. And that’s an area, the. Working with the private client dogs actually gave me an opportunity to see some behaviors.

I’ve never seen before. Like, I’ve heard, I’ve heard of shelter seeking behavior, but the 1st time I had a dog doing shelter seeking behavior. I was like, wow. Okay. So that’s what they’re talking about. You know, you don’t really see that with working dogs or the dogs that we select to go out there and, Do certain tasks, so, that I think is really absolutely.

And then the 2nd, 1 work with the private client dogs at dogs. I think doing the working dog aspect is probably. [00:45:00] tHe easiest thing you can do, and if you just focus on working dogs or cheating yourself, I think that if you want to do really good with working dogs, go out there and work with some pets because I tell this to students as well.

You know, I have the easiest job in the world. I get to select the dogs that I want to work with when it comes to pets. You don’t, you don’t have that option, you know, so you take a dog that’s got 0 drives and, you know, the homeowner wants them to. Do you know, stop licking their hands or something and you got a problem solve and try to figure out, Hey, how am I going to get this dog to stop doing this and without making it worse without making problems, right?

Yeah, exactly. And then my last tip would be, you know, Don’t try to find out how. Find out why. I think that’s, that’s really key. Having that understanding of why we do certain things [00:46:00] is going to give you a huge edge in your development as a trainer and as you, progress and get deeper into this industry.

Take a course, ask questions. And at the end of the day, you’re, you know, you’re always a student. You’re not going to know how to do everything. And you’re not going to know, you know, why things work the way the why things work the way they do. But, you know, it’s trying to be a sponge out there, build your toolbox.

And at the end of the day, you’ll be successful. Man, that’s awesome. Well, recently, a survey taken by Gallup. Came out with four bullet points that they said each manager should have. And I won’t ask you upfront, but let’s think about this. The first point they said was a manager should have the following talents.

First, they should foster [00:47:00] trust, communication, and transparency with the people they manage. What do you think about that? I think that’s huge. Especially the transparency part. I think, yeah, you know, 1 thing my mom always told me is no matter what I always tell the truth. That’s why I got in trouble so much because I always told the truth since we’re being honest, I have to tell you that you’re not really an athlete, but.

I have to tell you that there’s a, there’s video proof of that. And if you want, you could ask Connor. He’ll be happy to tell you, but,

but, you know, I just think, in general. Yeah, I think. Being transparent and honest. That’s, that’s one. That’s an important quality that I seek in people. Like, if I can’t trust you, like, I can’t work with you, you know, so that that really makes sense with me. That’s awesome. Another point that they brought out was productivity [00:48:00] drives their goals and not politics.

I’ve seen this a lot in law enforcement and we all complain about it. But as we move up the chain of command, we begin to fall into the politics, right? Getting a position because of who, you know, not based on what you know. They also said there’s a clear accountability and people, each manager should have clear accountability for the people that work under them, which I’m a firm believer in, you know, and that’s why we.

Verify we trust, but we verify what somebody tells us because, we want to make sure that they understand that we will hold them accountable for the for the standards that we do have. And then lastly, they say we should prove continuously that we can overcome adversity and we can overcome resistance and drive.

Drive [00:49:00] will carry us through those things and we should display that as a manager to our employees and the people that we have the privilege to, to mentor and grow. aNd I thought it was very interesting because these things really resonate with me. As running a company or being involved in helping people to grow within their careers.

I can relate to each for these points very clearly, but, you know, we talk about a little bit of stress and you brought it up earlier. And you spoke about having stress and creating a little bit of stress, but they also tell us that 16 percent of managers will leave their position because of stress.

So we have to also manage how much stress we put on people because that could also create. Adversity and we want to find that fine line between push and too much [00:50:00] push because somebody shouldn’t come to work every day feeling stressed. Yes, there’s times where we got a hump and do our thing and there’s going to be a little bit, but Exceeding those expectations of stress that anybody can handle is just too much.

And we got to be mindful of that. I’m going to move into our last point and the last point of discussion that I’m going to have with you. And that is, how did your training help you transition from the military to civilian life? And can you give some pointers to some veterans that may be struggling?

Because let me tell you this, let me give you some statistics in relationship to that. So approximately 200, 000 veterans or military personnel leave the branch of service into, and make that transition into civilian life each and every year. That’s 200, 000 people that are [00:51:00] transitioning out of the military into civilian life with over 250, 000 veterans unemployed right now.

And that’s increasing. Year after year. So now that you’ve taken that step and you gave us your background, you’ve taken that transition from military life into civilian life. Can you give Those veterans that are in your shoes that may be making that transition or maybe have been making that transition for quite some time.

Can you give them some, some paths on how they can be successful and maybe find a rewarding career, whether it’s in dog training or in another facet, what have you learned and what can you lend to them? Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing, I took out of my transition from the military is You know, you got to find something that you enjoy doing at the end of the day.

I always [00:52:00] tell my wife, you know, I feel like a millionaire being able to do or having the privilege to do what I do because I, for the first time in my life, I’m able to say, Hey, I can wake up every morning and I do not dread going to work. That’s awesome. Or on Sundays, you know, people get the Sunday scaries.

I used to get the Sunday scaries. Like, man, I do not want to go work tomorrow. You know, NFL Sunday football and gamble, you know, I go to work tomorrow and, you know, just dreading the next day. And I’m fortunate where, you know, I’m excited about the next day and I’m planning for my next day and I’m planning for my week.

And I think that at the end of the day is worth more than anything money can offer. Because I think a lot of veterans, after they get out of the military, they’re just thinking about. Oh, I want to make a lot of money. What’s going to put me in a position to make a lot of money, you know, and you got to look out for, you know, your mental health, like what [00:53:00] you love to do and what drives you.

And that’s, that’s pretty much the biggest piece of advice I have for veterans is, you know, like really. Before you even get out, have a clear cut, have a clear cut plan and don’t just think about the dollar bills. Think about, you know, what you’re going to love. And at the end of the day, that money, if you really want that money, that money is going to come if you’re doing what you love, because it’s just like dogs.

Dogs are You know, they excel at things that they enjoy and we’re no different, you know, so that that’s, that’s what I got. Yeah, well, I like it. We’re going to wrap this up and I always give at the end of our podcast. I give some points that you brought up and some things that we learned from you now. I will say this.

This was packed with a lot of learning from you. Believe it or not. And I know not very many people can learn from Simon, but, I learned so much on this [00:54:00] podcast, but let me give them some takeaways that you gave us first and foremost communication and the importance of communication, embedding communication in with your daily activities, not just professional, but personal as well.

And that’s something that we can all learn from. Ask our wives, those that are listening, ask their boyfriends. If we just communicate, a lot of times those problems go away because we get them out, we air them out, and we talk about them. So that’s great. The other thing you talked about was a network and a trainer having a network that they can turn to, to bounce ideas off of, to talk about.

I heard you say this one time speaking about another trainer and you said you said something to the point of they don’t know what they don’t know because nobody’s ever held them accountable and that resonated so much to me because that’s exactly right because I don’t work by myself. I [00:55:00] have you guys to hold me accountable.

So when I’m training a dog or I’m playing a student, it’s not just me is you guys looking at me and holding me accountable for my results. That’s awesome. That’s remarkable because I didn’t realize the importance of that. I always recognize the importance of having a team and being able to problem solve together, but I didn’t recognize the importance of accountability and you made that very apparent to me.

And it was like a light. When I compared what you said to that particular trainer, it was like a light bulb came on very talented trainer, but because they were never held accountable, everything they did was correct. And that’s a big thing is to have that network that we can bounce ideas off of, but also that can hold us accountable at times when we need to be.

Okay, then you gave us three things, as we [00:56:00] moved on through here. And here’s the three things you gave us, to be a successful trainer. You told us to watch, sit back and watch more than you talk. And that’s what I took from that watch sessions. Watch dogs work, watch other trainers. Work and what they’re doing.

You can learn so much from just standing back and watching the session versus being on leash, and that’s a valuable tool that we can all take away from this talk with you. Alright, the next thing and the next point you brought up is always be a student, always be ready to learn from somebody else, even if they don’t have a lot of experience per se, you can learn so much from them.

I always learn from knowledge. And what I mean by that is as soon as someone tells me that they’ve been doing this for 20 or 30 years and try to, they try to persuade me how much they know by the number of years they’ve been doing this, I [00:57:00] automatically turn them off. I don’t listen to a word they say after that, but somebody that’s willing to teach me things that are willing to show me through their knowledge of how much they know, man, I’m like a sponge.

I’m all in 100 percent and I respect those trainers so much, no matter the length of time they’ve been doing it. I love it. And then the last point that you drove home for all of us is to find out the why. Not the how and that’s important why you’re doing something, why the behavior will change because of this, why you took this direction in training or why somebody else took this direction and training versus.

Another direction versus just tell me how to do something procedurally or by the numbers. And we know we don’t believe in that. We believe in analyzing and developing custom training plans for every single dog and student. And that drives home that point. Find out the why, not the [00:58:00] how. Man, great talk, man.

I enjoyed my time. I hope everybody else did.

Interested in making a guest appearance? Have a topic you want us to discuss? Send us a message!

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