Over the past decade I have been continually frustrated, not in the growth of the dog training industry (largely sparked by Ceasar Milan) but the fact that anyone that has been around dogs a long time and goes to a puppy mill training school is now a “trainer.” They still need to earn their status in a community but unfortunately the general public, despite caring so much for their four legged kids just do not know what they are looking at.
The past few months I have written an outline for my next book. This is the book that truly everyone dog owner will need to read. All my life I have been instructing people one on one everyday for the entire spectrum of issues that arise between a human and their dog. The true secret is in the communication between the owner and their trainer. A truly fabulous trainer can communicate, identify and process each person they work with on a cellular level. Most of these traits cannot be taught in my experience and most trainers do not have it.
I have witnessed many poor trainers and a few good ones along the way. As much as experience is super helpful and I always fall back on my 3,000 plus dog education— The gifted trainers are born as understanding strong compassionate individuals. I have seen a 17 year old girl that has never handle a dog before, out handle an experienced trainer of 30 years… why? Because she has the gift. That trainer had the experience but not the innate intelligence to globally communicate. This happens all the time.
People think just because your dog does a crowd-pleasing command with you as the pez dispenser or you can yell at the dog and it will obey out of intimidation that the trainer is a superstar. Sadly, owners often only have this person to compare themselves to and they want to believe in this person, so they do for awhile. Most households do not hold big demands on their dogs but the standard of responsiveness should be the same no matter what. Otherwise the dog will view the handler as inadequate and responsiveness will deteriorate.
The trainer needs to not just win the owners trust but make them realize their limitations as a handler and change what they can. I certainly have my core methods and beliefs but have no foolish pride when it comes to the elderly, mentally ill or the utmost desperate times; further experimentation is key for the individual situation. Every owner and trainer needs to know when those times exist. Getting the dog to do the required tasks for me, only helps you if you can do what I do. 15 years ago I never thought I’d use a prong collar or give a dog a treat for responding….. but when the owner’s agility, strength, and or mental capacity is limited, one may need to bring themself to such experiments. Still there are proper ways of doing such and by utilizing these methods you create the potential to harm the relationship you ideally should have with your dog. Thankfully I can say that more than ~95% of the time we can avoid these tools and keep “us,” the handler as the main tool. The best trainer will customize a lot in their explanations and implementations of working with you and your dog.
So to give credit where due, to us trainers who get the maximum results out of our humans and dogs with whatever methods used. The hard combination to obtain at the end game— maximum responsiveness and happiness in your dog. Most trainers seem to accomplish one or the other but not both. Remember we always want training to be fun and a good instructor can most often make it such but we train first and foremost for— safety and sanity.