I’m sure it’s the same in every industry, but in the dog training industry we often joke that the only thing dog trainers can agree on is that the “other” dog trainer is wrong.
But is it really a matter of right and wrong? I think not. I think it’s a matter of experience and adaptability in order to get clients results.
Yesterday I did an in home consult with a client and their dog, who indicated on their dog training profile that I would be the third trainer they’ve hired over the course of the last year. I immediately recognized both names of the miami based dog trainers she had worked with previously, neither of which, according to her, had resolved the issue she was having with young retriever. Many trainers may have been intimidated, or apprehensive about agreeing to do a consult for this client based on the notion that it likely wasn’t a lack of skill or experience on the previous trainers’ part, but instead an un-willingness on the clients part in not following through. As the third trainer to be called in, there was going to be a chance that I would be faced with the same exact challenge of a non-compliant client. Yet, the part of me that always loves a good challenge happily agreed to do the consult.
I’m not sure if it was “to my surprise” or “to my relief” that the client was actually a very good student. In fact, she is my ideal type of client. Educated, enthusiastic, patient, and very committed to her dog.
As a dog trainer, I have never been in denial that what makes me “special” or “different” in my industry is that I love people. A lot of trainers in my industry will tell you that they’re in this business to help the dogs. Unlike the norm (go figure), I have always been in this business to help the people; for the interactions that I have with my two legged clients. The fact that I also get to work with animals is icing on the cake. Yet, it’s the relationships I develop with my human clients that make me keep wanting to get up in the morning. Being able to improve someone’s quality of life through dog training is what, for me, it’s all about. Yesterday I got to do exactly that, and it felt awesome.
I had no problem asking the client why they felt the other two trainers didn’t work out. While they told me about different techniques and suggestions the other trainers had made, I carefully observed the relationship they had with their dog. It was clear to me within that first ten minutes of being in the home that this dog’s primary motivation was affection and attention. It’s no wonder the either trainers failed: they failed to recognize what really motivated this particular dog! Was it really that simple? Yes.
The client indicated that one trainer was focused solely on giving the dog treats for good behavior, when they felt they had explained to the trainer that the dog wasn’t that into food. They said the other trainer made suggestions that weren’t realistic based on the nature of the behavior problem.
In continuing to tell me how the other trainers hadn’t gotten results for her, she had no criticisms, however, about their abilities as trainers in general, their personalities, or intentions. She spoke highly of them both, as did I.
What this case really comes down to is proof that there is no one cookie cutter approach to dog training. As dog trainers, we can all have different preferences where tools, equipment, and training philosophies are concerned. Yet none of those things should prevent us from ever seeing what’s right in front of us — THE DOG AND THE NEEDS OF OUR CLIENT.
By identifying that attention/affection was the largest motivator for this particular animal, I was quickly able to develop a behavior modification plan for the client. We had almost instant results and didn’t once have to give the dog a food reward. For this dog, love WAS enough.
If the other two trainers who came before me asked for my advice it would be this:
- Always put the needs of your human client first.
- Keep up with your continuing education so that you are well equipped to handle anything, and everything for your clients
- Go into your consults open minded and ready to adapt based on what motivates the dog
- Remember that you are developing a training plan that HAS to work for your human client based on their budget, time, and skill level
- Follow up with your client to make sure you did in-fact resolve their behavior concern… otherwise, they’ll call me 😉
Need help with your dog or puppy? Tried other dog trainers in the past and haven’t gotten results? Give us a call 786-529-7833 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are not only fun, experienced, and enthusiastic about what we do but we are results driven. For us training is just as much about our human’s experience as it is about the dog’s experience. At AYP, we put your human needs first, while always keeping your dog’s well being in mind.