Bits of Advice and More

By Certified Trainer, Sgt. Adam Slater


This is defined as The feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.


If you are anything like me frustration is most likely one of the top five words in your canine training vocabulary, (If you are being honest with yourself).  I would like to talk about, “Frustration,” and how it can be a good and bad thing. 


I have found people, in general, don’t like to seek advice to further their knowledge when they become frustrated.  Why is this you may ask? Simple, we are prideful, think we already know the answer, possibly too arrogant, or simply don’t know who to seek for advice about the particular issue which is being experienced.


Earlier in my series, I told you of a quote I love which was told to me by my wife, “Frustration begins where knowledge ends.” Keep that in mind as you read through this. 


When you reach the level of frustration it is important to take a step back and ask the following questions. Why am I frustrated? What am I trying to accomplish? Is what I am doing (in training) allowing me to accomplish the desired results? Am I causing the problem?


These are just a few, self-diagnostic questions you should always ask yourself when trying to accomplish something with a canine. It is imperative to always look objectively into your training and live deployments with critical thinking in mind.  Successful canine training and live deployments is completed through constant self-evaluations of both yourself and canine.  Often times we make excuses for our canine or our mistakes when working, however, to truly succeed is to remain humble and be willing to SEE and EMBRACE those things which can be improved upon.


Frustration (It’s a good thing)


How you may ask?  Well, that would be the question.  It is a good thing if you have the ability to realize you are frustrated and seek advice and ways to fix the frustration (Problem).  If you have the ability to realize you are frustrated it is your first step in admitting your knowledge in this particular area of canine training is lacking. 


Anyone who works with a canine will at some point become frustrated.  Realizing the frustration and working to gain knowledge and experience to quell the frustration is key in becoming a master at your canine handling/training skill. 


As stated above, Frustration is a good thing! The reason for this is, if you get to the point where you are frustrated and want to FIX the frustration, you will have to do so through knowledge gained.  Fixing frustration often involves additional instruction for yourself, and your canine team, through a trainer or fellow canine handler who has the keys to unlock these previously locked boxes of knowledge to you.  Harnessing this new found knowledge will only increase your effectiveness as a trainer or a canine team.  BE WILLING TO ASK FOR HELP!


Frustration (It’s a bad thing)


People, in general, are prideful.  This is not a bad thing; it makes us who we are.  The problem with this is often times canine handlers and trainers are experiencing frustration with a canine over something small and do not seek advice on how to fix the problem.  None of us have seen EVERY potential problem which can be experienced in canine handling or training. 


It is important to understand even the best trainers including many in the ASCT organization NEVER stop learning.  Things are constantly changing and new information is always becoming available. Sometimes we find it difficult to learn something new from a handler or trainer who may be newer into the canine field than we are.  I find fault in this type of thinking, as the only way to curb your frustration with respect to canine training and handling is to learn everything you can from everyone you can, no matter their knowledge or skill level. 


If you are not able or refuse to do a self-diagnostic on yourself when it comes to canine handling or training you are at the pinnacle of failure.  Frustration will only increase and multiply itself into other areas of your training if not dealt with at the most infant stages. Ensure you have a support structure in place as we talked about earlier in this article series.  Feel free to call these trainers, and handlers and discuss what is going on which may be causing your concerns. 


If you ask any trainer or handler you respect, 100 percent of them will credit others in their canine career for knowledge gained and experience has given towards the success of their respective careers. 


As I stated above frustration is very prevalent in my canine career but this is not a bad thing! I have experienced and continue to experience frustration because I continue to gain knowledge and push my training to the limit.  We are all only as good as our last deployment.  Always work to be better on the next!




This is a short note, however, I came across a situation the other day and I simply figured I would share this thought with those who work with canines and train handlers.


Odin (my canine) and I are not in competition with anyone.  We are not in competition with other K-9 teams, handlers, trainers, police officers, or search and rescue personnel.  We (our team) simply strive to be the best we can be on any given day.  It is true Odin has been very successful and I am the recipient of an outstanding canine, however, I do not let this success go to my head.  I do not become overconfident, arrogant, or believe I am too good to continue to train.  I am willing to give my advice or thoughts if they are asked for and always value the input from other trainers or handlers.


The reason I bring this up is I find in the canine world there are several handlers/trainers who are in competition with each other.  I find this will never lead to success.  You have to remain within yourself and your team.  Have confidence with your abilities and your canine’s abilities.  Understand and know your limits.  Be willing to defer to another canine team or resource if what is asked is outside your team’s abilities. 


The idea being when a canine is needed for detection, tracking, or apprehension, for the canine team to be successful at the task at hand.  If we (the canine community) ensure all canines are ready to succeed canines will be utilized more often and a “pro-dog” mindset will grip those calling upon the assistance of our four-legged friends. 


Sometimes it is simply important to understand having confidence is key, but be willing to work with others, build them up, and ensure the continued success of the entire canine community.  Never stop learning or training.