In the traditional sense, as in going to dog training school or dog training academy, I did not. However, what I’ve learned is that anyone who’s done those courses and stuff, they actually really don’t teach you anything. All my experience is hands-on experience in the last 10 years from walking dogs, lots of volunteer work for humane societies, and then of course, what I’ve done as a trainer.
It’s just studying other trainer’s videos, reading books by Cesar Milan of course, Sophia Yin, Ian Dunbar– There’s a couple other trainers that I read their books. That’s pretty much where the bulk of my knowledge comes from is mostly experience and then some insight from other trainers. Don’t get pulled into the whole certified trainer stuff, because even people that go to college and get PhDs on animal behavior and stuff like that, still, unfortunately, cannot help you.
You don’t know how many times I myself or my mentor, Richard Heinz, went to these people or to clients’ homes who have worked with animal behaviorists that had all these certifications and stuff yet the dog was still biting people, the dog was still fearful. They weren’t getting anywhere. Of course, then we come in and we’re able to get the dog into a better place and to help rehab them.
So, it’s just a piece of paper, and to be honest with you, when I first started looking into becoming a dog trainer because my dog, Xena, herself was a very fearful dog– She wasn’t aggressive but she’s very fearful. If you try to pet her, she would shrink down and try to disappear. I wanted to help her so that’s why I branched out into dog training and really started looking into it.
I did a lot of research online. Then there were online sites where you could take courses and then they would send you off to work with someone. It was like $10,000 (USD) and stuff like that. I was doing a lot of research, trying to find somewhere to learn how to become a dog trainer. I end up working for a corporate pet store, a big franchise. Ended up being their dog trainer for a bit. [sighs]
They send me off to do their training program and– Which I honestly didn’t learn anything from that time that they sent me. They sent me off somewhere for two weeks. I was under another trainer, their head trainer for the area. Essentially, all we did was read out of a book that I had already read previously as part of the program. We just simply re-read it, had nothing to do with dog training. It was about wolves and all this other stuff and genetics.
I don’t want to say I think I got no hands-on experience, but I got literally only 15 minutes of working with a dog and getting critiqued, and that was it. Then, they set me back to where I was going to work and I essentially had to just learn by teaching myself and teaching my dogs. There really wasn’t any formal training. Actually, when doing my research for the online courses, for this course that was like $10,000, someone had posted in a forum that they had also– They actually did that program.
They did that $10,000 program and they ended up working for a pet store, much like I did. Everything they learned, the pet store stuff, was [laughs] the same exact thing as the online course, which was nothing. I was like, “I am so glad I did not spend all that money.” It would have been terrible, it would have been a terrible investment. It’s just a piece of paper. My certification comes in all my reviews that you may find on Yelp, Facebook, Google Plus and Thumbtack.
Ask anybody that’s worked with me, that is my certification. It’s just that hands-on experience, and of course, the results that I bring to people. Other than that, I did study with Richard Heinz, the Miami Dog Whisperer, who’s had over 20 years of experience in dog aggression, who’s worked with some crazy, crazy cases. You can look him up on YouTube, Richard Heinz, the Miami Dog Whisperer, and you’ll see.
I’ll be in some of those videos as well. I was with him for three months and I amassed such a great supply of knowledge. Being with him for three months, every day, following him around, picking at his brain, asking him questions and just watching him work. “Do I have any formal certification?” No. “Did I go to any academy?” No, but please feel free to watch my videos, look at my reviews, and that itself is my certification.