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The qualities of a good dog handler

A good dog handler is patient. He understands that training takes time and is willing to spend time. He is intelligent, and he thinks clearly about what effect his actions will have upon the dog. Also, he has "feeling", an accurate intuition for what makes dogs do the things that they do. He is decisive-fast handed and effective in all that he does. He is not dogmatic, but flexible-always ready to re-examine his beliefs and methods and adapt them to the particular nature and endowment of his pupil.

A good dog handler is emotionally disciplined and has an even disposition. He is not prone to temper tantrums and can administer both praise and punishment appropriately. When he physically punishes the animal, he does so impartially-he punishes as the result of a thoughtful decision to use force in order to get results, rather than from wrath and the desire to relieve some of his frustration by taking vengeance upon the dog.

A good dog handler has integrity, in the sense that he is his own person and does not depend upon his dog's behaviour or performance to give him a sense of worth, identity or importance.

A good dog handler has a worldly understanding of his pupil and knows it for a dog and only a dog. He realizes that the animal does things for its own reasons and does not necessarily live its whole life in order to please its dog handler. He accepts that sometimes his dog will be less than completely brave, that the animal has no sense of fair play or honesty, that it does nothing for spite and that its basic nature is that of an opportunistic predator.

A good dog handler has the capacity to self-examine. When his dog makes a mistake or does not understand an exercise, he asks himself, "Where am I at fault?"

Finally, a good dog handler respects his dog not just as an asset or possession, or as a way of gaining recognition by winning trophies, but as a living, breathing and utterly unique product of nature. After all, each and every dog is an event of biology that will never happen again.