Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Choosing A Dog Trainer

Most dog owners don’t know what to look for when choosing a dog trainer. So, I wrote this article today to help them with this important issue:


“When people call me to inquire about dog training, I often tell them that I don’t have any kind of fancy sales pitch ("Buy now and save $39.95! Boy, you better sign up for lessons right now or your dog is going to become aggressive and dangerous! Etc., etc."). I just don’t do that kind of thing. I let my reputation sell for me instead. I am a "straight shooter" and I'll tell you like it is, good or bad. I don't say things I don't mean. You are paying me for honest advice, even if it is hard to hear.

So, if you don’t know whether I’m the right person to train your dog, then here’s what to do.

First, read through all the articles at my web page. I wrote this to show you that I know what I’m talking about, and to educate my customers. Through those stories and examples, you’ll get to know me and my training philosophy. Also, be sure to read my blog, Pooch Master. You'll learn a great deal about who I am and my commitment to animal welfare.

Second, read about how I correct a dog. I have several articles here on that topic. A lot of people want to know that I’m not going to hurt their dog in the training. That is an important consideration, isn’t it? I would let just anyone train my dog, either. To sum things up, I can train 99% of all dogs with just a bag of treats, a collar and a couple of leashes. It isn’t about hurting the dog, or a bunch of fancy devices. It is more about what I know than the tools that I use.

Third, go to my competitor’s web pages and compare what they are saying to what I’m saying. Read their training articles. Do they know what they are talking about? Usually, the answer is no. You are also going to see some outlandish sales claims. For example, there is always a con artist in every city I’ve been in that says they can completely train your dog to off leash obedience in 3 to 5 lessons. Now, seriously, do you really believe that? Come on. Do you think that police dogs are given a week of lessons and are then ready for patrol work? Do you think that guide dogs for the blind are given a week of lessons and are ready to do off leash work for their masters? Or search and rescue dogs? Or drug detection dogs? Or competition obedience dogs? No way. That stuff is a lie. Yes, you can berate and force a dog to do something in a couple of lessons, but that isn’t my definition of proper training. Or there are the people who say you can do a board and train type of lesson and the dog will come back home perfectly obedient. Now, tell me this, if that is true, then why is it if I hand my fully trained dog to you, he won’t listen when you give him commands? Because you don’t know what you are doing, and you didn’t earn the obedience with my dog. Yes, I could strap an electric collar on a dog and force it to obey anyone who gave it a command, but that takes all the spirit out of the dog. And yes, there are some very malleable dogs that will take commands from anyone after the training, but that just isn’t the way most dogs work. That is why you see mostly German Shepherd Dogs on police forces and Golden / Labs doing guide dog work. Those breeds were selectively bred to be "slaves", and they re-home better than most other breeds. Rottweilers, Dobermans, and other dogs like that don’t do well switching from one master to another. The police need a dog that can be handed to a new K9 officer, and in a short time, put on the street to apprehend criminals. You can’t do that with most of the man working breeds. And that is the same reason why you don’t see more breeds doing guide dog work. You can’t have others training the dog for you, and then transfer the dog to another person for the dog to obey.

Fourth, talk to real people. You are going to see a lot of so-called credentials touted by other trainers. There are several non-profit dog organizations which you can join, supposedly to prove you are a qualified trainer. The same is true with so-called "certified animal behaviorists"... folks who have gotten a PhD in animal behavior, who can't or won't train your dog to obey, who know more about behavioral drugs and the theory of operant conditioning, but can't relate to how to train a dog to obey you in your home and in your life. Well, look into those organizations and certification programs. There are also dog training franchises you can join and call yourself a "dog trainer". They don’t mean a thing. I decided long ago to not waste my time joining them. If you want credentials, ask for past customer references. That is where the rubber meets the road. I am always willing to give you references. Tons of them, if necessary. More than you can and will call to check me out. I never pre-screen my references. I don’t call them and tell them what to say or warn them they are going to get a call. I want you to get it straight from them, good or bad. Ask away. You’ll see they like what I did with them and their dogs, I came to the appointments, I didn’t hurt their dogs, I have high standards and I am relentless in going for a good result, we worked through all the problems they were having, and I knew what I was doing. The biggest laugh is is when you see a competitor calling themselves a "Master Trainer". I have only met one of those in my lifetime, and his name is Armin Winkler. I trained with him for 2 years, and I give him all the credit for making me into the trainer I am today. He is still a better trainer than I am (even I don't call myself a Master Trainer... there are only a handful of them in the world), and I’m not embarrassed to say that. But, he is located in Virginia, and not a lot of people have the means or time to travel there to train with him. He IS a Master Trainer… absolutely phenomenal. And I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to not only train with him, but to be his friend. Go to his web page . You will see that he doesn't belong to any of these silly organizations, either. He just has a web page to educate his customers, tell them about his schedule, and to update you on past and upcoming events. Many of those so-called "celebrity" trainers, who write dog training books that you can find in the local bookstore, train with him. He doesn't have anything to do with these organizations, and they mean nothing regarding how qualified the trainer is. In addition, we have all trained dogs for famous people. I could tell you names of people you would know, famous people... lead singers of rock bands, researchers, business icons, the wealthy, etc... but they want their privacy, and I don't publish those names.

Whether you sign up for private or group lessons with me, feel free to first check me out. And check out my competitors. I have no worries about any of that. I just want to train dogs, not get in a contest with these other folks.”

1 comment:

itobun said...

Thanks for the info.
i've been looking for blog like this... very useful. Thanks again

You've helped me to fill my blog at
Dog Training with another useful information. :)