You go to the breeder, rescue, or shelter, and while looking at the puppies/dogs you can’t help but be drawn to one in particular. Sometimes more than one! You bring the puppy/dog home and immediately begin to bond with this other life and everything is going great until you realize some time in that he or she has a quirk that doesn’t seem so bad or can be managed, but gets worse as they grow. Or maybe you just need some standard puppy training and obedience, but you have a certain image of what you want that pooch to be able to do down the line so you begin to search for a trainer.
Then, as you look around, you start to see all these different types of methods and opinions about them. Some are very negative and others naively positive about what they can achieve. So, naturally, people are attracted to those that state what they want to hear. Sometimes when they meet the trainer, something doesn’t make sense or feel right, but because they believe they are working with a professional, they decide to hire them. However, as they move forward with the decision, one question runs through their head:
Did I hire the right dog trainer?
This is a tricky question to answer because it all comes down to each person’s personal perspective on how they want to go about training, what they’ll excuse, and what they’re willing to do. But I’ll give you my personal opinion and a few key points to consider when trying decide once you’ve found a dog trainer, and most importantly, if they’re the right dog trainer for you.
1. Transparency – Put simply, it means that they’re honest. I’m very upfront when it comes to the methods I use and my approach. I also let people know exactly how far I can get their dog with each method and why. If they insist on not using aversive techniques, but want 100% off-leash reliability, I tell them it’s not possible and that I won’t work with their dog because it’s not going to happen using only food. Believe it or not, some trainers will tell you otherwise, but their agenda serves themselves.
When I first started working with dog’s with behavior problems I had a great foundation to jump from, but I knew I had a ways to go so I was honest when I didn’t get the results that we wanted to achieve, and so, I wouldn’t charge for the session. I felt that learning what didn’t work and the knowledge I’d gain would be payment enough down the line so I didn’t feel right charging someone if nothing got done. I still carry this mentality to this day.
2. Background – Aside from my internship with The Miami Dog Whisperer, I am completely self taught. A lot of my knowledge came from watching Seasons 1 – 5 of Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer show and lots of volunteer work applying what I was observing. My handling skills and ability to read dog behavior grew very quickly because I was immersing myself in all things dog and dog behavior. So within a year, not to toot my own horn, but, I was way ahead of other trainers my age and older with more years under their belt. Both in skills and knowledge.
So don’t think just because they’ve been working with dogs for 20 years means that they’ll have the ability to help you. Look into their history and accomplishments. Do any of them include what you’re hiring them to do? Certifications are just a piece of paper, the real proof of certification is in their…
3. Results – This ties into the history and accomplishments part of their background, but something I always find myself asking when I hear someone is a dog trainer is, “what is their success rate?” With there being so many variables when dog training, no trainer can say they have a complete 100% success rate, it’s impossible (this is where transparency comes in), but there should be considerable change that carries over that can be built upon.
And with social media and YouTube, there’s really no reason why they shouldn’t have a source for their potential clients to go to that shows dogs that they work with. Before, and after, training. This isn’t always possible to do with all behavior work, but unless they are just starting out there really isn’t an excuse to not have anything up.
So their you have it. Three conditions to consider when you’re questioning whether or not you have the right dog trainer. Always do your research and look all over, don’t limit yourself to just your area. There’s a whole world of dog trainers and even if you can’t be helped by one across the country, they can at least give you insight on what can be achieved and give you someone to compare agains the person you’re considering.
Thank you for your support.
This video link will take you to my FAQ that not only answers commonly asked questions, but is also meant to give prospective clients an insight on how I approach and view dog training, as well as my personality. On my journey to get to where I am today I watched countless videos of other dog trainers. Some I continue to follow to this day, others I pulled what resonated with me, and for the rest, I looked as a model of what not to do.