The two are different…. Teacher and Coach…. if you are an instructor, which are YOU?  If you are a student, which is your instructor?

Let’s explore the differences.

What is a Teacher?


Merriam-Webster defines a teacher as: “a person who passes on information or skill”

What that inherently says is a one-way communication.  It means to instruct or to pass on skills or knowledge. The role of the teacher is important and to some degree essential. However, it is one-way deliverance of information.

In the sport of Nosework, it’s essential to have two-way discourse.  This is true of most dog sports.

Let’s explore what a “Coach” is…

Yes, Coach is indeed the cramped, no leg room area of a plane cabin.  It’s also a wagon hitched to a bunch of horses…. However, it’s also the synonym of “guide, counsel, lead, mentor, pilot, shepherd, show, tutor”.  When we think of a Coach, we tend to think of someone yelling at a bunch of football players at half-time, but it’s much more than that.  Coaching is a personal act and it’s two-way.  It involves guiding an individual (or team) in the development of excellence.


COACHING is critical to LEARNING…

When you train your dog, are you a Teacher or a Coach?  Do you instruct your dog or do you listen and coach?  Odds are, you coach.  You mold, you persevere, you LISTEN.

The same holds true for your students.

Do you LISTEN?  Do you seek to know how they are processing the information that you’re giving them?  Are you there for them when they have a bad trial as well as the good?  It’s easy to cheer someone on when they succeed but how about when they struggle?

If you’re a student, what is your instructor?  Does you instructor ask you what your goals are?  Are they genuinely happy for your triumphs?  Do they ask you what you need for your next trial?

Keep in mind that coaching is TWO WAY.  Do YOU seek to develop a coaching relationship with your instructor?  Do you ask questions?  Do you seek two way discourse?  Are you INVOLVED in your education?

Learning Street Signs

The thing about coaching that is poignant is that it’s TWO-WAY…. that means if you are the learner, you need to engage as well.  Food for thought!  YES!  TWO-WAY! That means that you are in part RESPONSIBLE for your own education.  Being resplosible for your education means that you have to be OPEN and AVAILABLE to information.  You have to PRESENT.  In your Nosework classes, do you just run the searches or do you seek to learn?  Do you ask what YOU could do better?  Do you tell the instuctor why you handled the search the way you did?  Do you seek education or just practice?

As an instructor, I get pressured to provide more and more searches.  Searches are fun.  Blind searches are especially fun.  The less feedback I give, the more searches we can do in an hour.  Is that really what you want from me or from your instructor?  Is class REALLY about getting as much seach time as possible or is that just practice?  Food for thought.  Personally, as a student I would prefer FEWER searches with MORE education.  What would YOU like?  What do you VALUE?

If you are an instructor, ask yourself how you canbecome a coach…

If you are a student, ask youself how you can be open to coaching and how you can develop that relationship with your instructor.

Happy Sniffing!