Training dogs is truly my passion. I have been a student of dog training for many years and have had the opportunity to learn from several great trainers, some directly and some indirectly through observation and study. Having studied numerous training methods and training philosophies, I believe that the proper training mindset is more important than the choice of method. Different people using the same methods get varying results. If the variation resulted from the methods, then those using these same methods would get similar results. Thus, the difference in training outcomes stems from how those methods are applied, rather than the actual methods themselves. Though I focus on retriever training, this principle of mindset being more important than methods applies to any form of dog training. In fact, it applies to all sports and to life in general.

This book is not about training methods, but rather about the importance of having the proper mindset before beginning to apply any given method. This is why the principles are applicable to all forms of dog training and dog sports.

Below you can read excerpts from each chapter and the principle discussed.

The Quest – Mindset Before Methods: The Path To Dog Training Success is available on

Mindset Over Methods

Mindset Before Methods

…”I have a foundational saying when it comes to training dogs, though it applies to life in general as well: first seek the proper mindset, and all else will fall into place….

The training process will provide many opportunities for you to learn about the nuances of each principle….

I’d highly recommend you take notes and write down your insights and questions. You’ll be getting a lot of information – if you don’t write it down, you won’t retain it. A mentor of mine once said, ‘Don’t just try to get through the day, but get from the day.’ You can only do this by writing down your thoughts and later reflecting on them.”

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Principle One: Leadership

Leadership is the first principle we’re going to cover,” began Jim. I opened my journal and started taking notes. He smiled and continued, “Dogs, like kids, crave leadership and the security and stability that come from real leadership. Also, ego has no place in leadership. Anytime people place their egos ahead of the dog’s wellbeing, true leadership cannot exist. We’ll talk more about this as we go through the principles, but first let me give you my definition of leadership as it relates to dog training. Leadership is producing results while having the dog’s best interest and well-being as the top priority at all times. There’s a lot in that definition, so let’s unpack it a bit.

“Leadership involves trust and respect…


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Principle Two: State of Mind

What do you mean by state of mind, Jim?”” I asked curiously.

“Well, all the principles I am gig to teach you are critical to successful dog training. But mastering this principle, Jack, is the biggest key to training responsibly. There are two components to training with the right state of mind.” He raised two fingers in the air. “One, the state of mind you are in when you start training., And, two, the state of mind you allow yourself to get in based on how the training is going,.

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Principle Three: Confidence

“You can’t have success without the possibility of failure, and if we could, success probably wouldn’t mean much. Yet it is possibility of failure that makes success so sweet. So, yes, there will be disappointments. And even amidst the disappointments, you can enjoy the process by keeping the proper perspective. It’s important to not lose sight of this point.

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