The PDTE supports shared learning and experiences, and last year we established a mentoring program for newer PDTE members wanting to gain ideas and insights into their work. We spoke to two participants - Winkie Spiers (PDTE mentor) and Laura Dobb (PDTE mentee) about their experiences with the new program.
Hi Winkie! Thanks again for offering to be a mentor for the first round of the PDTE mentoring program. How did you find the experience overall?
Enormously interesting! I love the structure that was put together for mentors and mentees, the forms and guidelines make it really easy to get in touch with each other. It's very professionally organised.
What made you sign up to be a mentor?
I have gained so much from the PDTE both personally and professionally - I think it's about giving back. When I first started a great many other professionals were very guarded about answering any questions or helping with any advice but I found a wealth of experience and kindness within PDTE which helped me to develop my business and knowledge.
Did you gain any insights into your own work through mentoring someone else?
Speaking to a mentee about structuring their business from the beginning reminded me of how it all started for me and has made me really think about my own business right now and to keep on improving things. I'm really impressed with the ideas, knowledge, courage and drive that Laura has.
How easy or difficult did you find it to fit the sessions into your schedule?
Once the dates are in my diary then it's OK. Life gets pretty busy but I believe the mentorship scheme is so important that I will always make time for it.
What do you think are the most important aspects of being a good mentor?
Listening and helping mentees to find their own way forward through open discussion. I'm enormously impressed and happy about the mentoring scheme and think it's a wonderful thing that PDTE can offer to its members. When I first started my business this would have been incredibly useful to me. Great to get to know members better as well.
Winkie Spiers is a dog trainer and behaviour consultant working in London, UK. www.winkiespiers.com
Hi Laura! Thanks again for signing up for the first round of the PDTE mentorship program. How did you find the experience overall?
The experience of having Winkie as a mentor has exceeded all of my expectations. I feel supported in my nascent dog coaching business, in my professional development as a dog coach and feel as if I have gained a friend and valued colleague as well. What inspired you to sign up?
Although I graduated from Turid’s IDTE in December 2015, I didn’t really launch my dog coach business until this year due to my family’s relocation from Bath/Bristol to Cornwall, finances and all the DIY needed in our new home. I had kept up to date with my studies by reading articles and the PDTE blog, keeping in touch with colleagues, working with my own rescue dog Nash and re-typing my notes from my IDTE course but I really needed the support and confidence of a mentor to properly launch my business and work with clients in a ‘hands-on’ way. What was the most useful insight you gained?
I learned so much from Winkie in just three short months. I suppose it was the confirmation that our IDTE training provided us with a huge depth of knowledge and that I did know a lot and could do no harm when working with clients and their dogs. I have actually helped dogs since starting my business. Winkie’s confirmation that my ideas were on the right track coupled with sharing her wisdom and years of practice made each client experience I encountered much more full and enjoyable. I didn’t feel alone. I felt like I could do this for a living and I am. Has the experience changed how you work at all? Since I signed up for the mentor program before I had properly started my business and had Winkie’s support from the beginning, there was no practice to change. I am thankful to have had such a stable beginning. Instead of making everything more complicated than it needs to be from the start, I learned that less is more when working with people and their dogs. Yes cases can be complicated but it’s important to prioritise and work on the most important issues first. Was it easy to connect without being able to meet in person? Speaking on the phone with Winkie was lovely. I had chatted with her at the PDTE AGM before but it was a gift to really get to know her via our bi-weekly chats. I did make the effort to travel up to London from Cornwall and was lucky enough to ‘shadow’ Winkie on her puppy classes and social walking events. Winkie was very generous with her time and this was invaluable time spent with a master dog coach (and lovely person) for me. What would you say to other PDTE members considering signing up? I would encourage all of my IDTE colleagues in Germany and any other new or even established dog coaches to sign up for the mentoring program because if you are new, it will boost your confidence and help you learn from a seasoned professional and if you have had your business for a while, you may gain new insights and refresh your outlook You may also gain a truly supportive PDTE colleague and perhaps someone whom you can collaborate with in the future. I feel much more connected to the PDTE and to the ‘real world’ of being a dog coach than I did before.
Laura Dobb is a holistic dog parenting coach based in Penzance. www.headheartandpaws.com