The Lighten Up Way
It’s been really great to have such a positive reception since I started the pre-launch countdown for Lighten Up Dog Training. I really didn’t expect such kindness or enthusiasm. It feels like people are thirsty for what’s coming in September!
So what is coming?
The first thing that you need to know about what’s coming is that it will be multimodal. The second thing is that it will ALL be about dogs who are struggling to cope in the modern world.
Simply put, that means it will have different ways that you can access the stuff you want…
- Weekly video guides about key concepts and activities
- Monthly podcasts with guests focused exclusively on practical work with reactive, shy, fearful, aggressive, predatory, impulsive and frustrated dogs
- A drama-free community discussion group focused exclusively on these issues
- Hand-outs, written guides and books
- Example case studies and behaviour plans
- Life Hacks for humans and their companions
- Newsletters and articles
- Live chat Q&A sessions
- Online tutorials
You’ll be able to get what you need in a way you can make sense of it. Above all, it’ll be focused exclusively on our real lives with our real dogs. Yes, there will be training in there. No, it won’t be hoping that obedience drills will solve dogs’ problems (unless it would… there’s always one!)
The most important thing about it is that you’ll be able to access what you want in a way that you can afford. A lot of stuff will be free. That’s what Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are there for. This will be the stuff that comes first. An appetiser if you will.
Later, there’ll be the proper launch of all the really shiny stuff. If you need more and you want to support the community, you’ll be able to do that too. That content will of course be more detailed. It’ll also mean that you get more involved so you get more out of it.
The worst thing in the world is that some guardians and trainers have historically been unable to access the essentials simply because they don’t have the means. There were times when I’ve lived off baked beans and noodles, and thanked free YouTube content for occasionally pointing me in the direction of something clear, well-produced and helpful that could help me with my puppy. Just because you spend every single penny on your dog does not mean you shouldn’t be able to access great content and support.
Lighten Up Dog Training will always be egalitarian. We’re here to support each other.
The other reason a lot of it will be free is because I’ve been in the world of education for a long, long time and it’s frustrating to know that unscrupulous and unprincipled individuals will rip off my stuff and sell it behind a paywall. I’ve been lucky to find mentors in publishing and education who were happy to recommend me rather than steal my stuff and sell it off as their own. Nothing is more amazing than being able to give others a platform and make sure people can access the information and instructions they need. I’m not precious. The only consequence of keeping materials exclusive when it comes to canine behaviour is that dogs and their guardians suffer because they can’t afford what would really help. That’s a huge shame.
The fundamentals will always be free.
Other stuff will be cheap. But it won’t be free.
There’s a reason for that too. I’m depending on you to buy what you need!
There are two ways to sell a million books if you’re a publisher. One is to find a best-selling author and get them to write one book that will sell a million copies. The other is to find a million authors and get them to write a book that will sell a single copy. Of course, now you see that it’s really a sliding scale, not two ends of a spectrum. You can find ten books to sell a hundred thousand copies of, and all kinds of permutations in between.
Unlike shops who stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap, there are no unethical sweatshops involved in Lighten Up. I just need a way to make a small living and keep it all functioning. When you buy what you need, you’ll be helping me keep giving out the basics for free.
When you buy the bits you need, however, you’ll be accessing exclusive content.
You’ll also be able to feel wonderfully smug about the fact you’ll also be helping oil the machine. It will be your machine as much as anybody else’s. We’re living in the 2020s… if you’re anything like me, you’ve donated here, you’ve bought something to support that cause over there, you’ve given where you want to see things flourish. I’m hoping that you’ll feel the same about Lighten Up too. I truly intend it to be a community rather than a business.
I’m excited because I know I have a whole load of things to share with you that I’ve never heard other trainers talking about. I know you probably have a load of things to share that you’ve never heard other trainers talking about. Things that deserve to be shared. Lighten Up will be all about that. Just this morning a colleague posted about her challenges working with a dog-reactive dog who can’t cope from the moment she sees another dog. I’ve got life hacks for that. That’s what Lighten Up is all about. If we’ve got things can help, why keep it to a small and exclusive crowd?
The Lighten Up Way will also be an approach and a philosophy as much as practical support.
I settled on Lighten Up as a name after a lot of thought.
The idea of enlightenment is nothing new. It works on lots of levels.
It can be that small, bright light that helps you live in the darkness without being completely overwhelmed.
It can be that moment the proverbial lightbulb goes on and things finally make sense.
Enlightenment is of course the sharing of knowledge.
When we know better, we do better as Maya Angelou would say.
But it also meant something else to me… lightening the load.
Living with dogs who struggle to cope can be exhausting.
Having lived with dogs through cognitive decline, through frequent cluster seizures and unmanageable epilepsy, through extreme separation-related behaviour, through dangerous and exhausting self-mutilation and, now, with complex, disproportionately violent responses to relatively innocuous stimuli, I know how hard people try. I’ve always been the one to take the dogs nobody else wanted from the shelter. I don’t think I could blame their former guardians in the slightest.
After eight years of working only with reactive, fearful, aggressive, destructive, maladaptive dogs, I promise you that most of my clients have been exhausted.
They simply didn’t have the capacity at that time to even see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I’ve been there when people have wept with relief and then wept with shame when behavioural euthanasia was the only thing they felt they had left to choose.
As a foster carer for a shelter, I’ve also known how hard it is to love a dog who would just find life so much easier in another home. I’ve known the longing of loving a dog yet knowing that their relationships with my other animals were not optimal, and I’ve felt that bittersweet ache as they go to live with someone else where they fit in just perfectly.
Lighten Up Dog Training, in all its multimodal splendour, will not just educate. It will not simply be a light in the darkness. It will not be just a lightbulb moment.
It will be, I hope with every atom of my soul, a place that lightens the load when you feel overwhelmed.
It will be a place that will help shoulder the weight of life.
And if you have never felt in need of lightening up, if you’ve never shared my confusion, my weariness and my occasional exhaustion, that’s magnificent. I love you already. We’ll need you. You’re our torch-bearers, the bringers of light. You’re going to join because I’m going to help you celebrate whatever it is that you’re doing and give you a platform.
It’s going to be a win-win, I can feel it!
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