K-9 Quick Tip: Choosing a Trainer.
What to consider when choosing a dog trainer… Dog training is a very personal thing. You are trusting someone to permanently influence your pup. Most times you are allowing a stranger into your family. Here are just a few things that might help you make a decision.
Although there are many great dog trainers, not all of these trainers will be great for you. It is very important that you trust and respect the trainer. If you have any doubt in the trainer, it is likely that your dog will pick up on that distrust. This may cause the dog to not perform to the best of its ability.
A good dog trainer will always be willing to show his or her work. If a dog trainer will not show you how they have, or are going to reach goals with your dog, it is probably best to go somewhere else. There are some trainers that work from the perspective that everything is a big secret. With so much information available on line, there aren’t many secrets about anything anymore.
What tools will the trainer use to train your pup?
TOOLS! This is a big one! What tools will the trainer use to train your pup? With technology advances, there are so many more humane tools available today than there were just a few years ago. These tools allow trainers, if used properly, to train the pup in a very timely manner. What took months ten years ago, can be done in a few weeks now. Can the trainer, with unwavering confidence, explain to you precisely how and why these tools work? This is very important! A balanced trainer that dances around these questions is probably not a good choice. Let me also stress that this discussion should not be heated or a battle of wills. It also shouldn’t be a half hour session trying to convince you that he or she is right. Tools are a personal decision that should be made by the dog’s owner and NEVER by the trainer. A trainer should be completely upfront with his or her tools and methods.
How current and relevant is your trainer?
How current and relevant are they? This is something that is often overlooked. Today business is driven primarily by the internet and social media. When I look into any business, I first go online to their website and social media to check them out. The very first thing I look for is how current their content is. So many times I go to a web page that was created 5-10 years ago and see that all of the content is original to the page. The same thing goes with social media. With the ease of posting to social media, there is no excuse for old content. It is also important to look at the value of the content. Does their content help you with problems that you are having right now? Anyone can post great pictures. It is much harder to create helpful, current content.
A Note About Pricing…
Now about price…The old saying that you get what you pay for is largely not true in this case. Training prices can vary based on lots of factors. One huge factor is overhead. Someone with a 5,000 square foot facility will likely charge more than someone doing private sessions or working out of their home. I can, however, give you a big CAUTION sign! If a trainer cannot tell you what they charge immediately when asked, as well as tell you what it includes, go somewhere else. I get asked if I can give an estimate for training several times a week. A good reputable trainer will immediately be able to tell you program and hourly prices right when they are asked and not have to work up an estimate. We are even in the process of posting all of our prices on line. It shouldn’t be a secret, it costs what it costs.
It’s about the people! I hear it all of the time in the dog training circles, “I work with dogs because I don’t like dealing with people”. Let me clue these folks into something. If you don’t like working with people, you should find something else to do. This is not a dog business as much as it is a people business. If you step back and take a look, you will see that what a good dog trainer is doing is working with the dog to make their owners happier. To be a good trainer, you have to have great communication skills. A trainer needs to be a good listener and problem solver. Although techniques for training every dog is pretty much the same, the needs of each owner is very different. The training should focus on the owner’s wants and needs, and not so much cookie cutter skills and tricks. A trainer should also answer the phone, and return emails and voicemails in a timely manner. A good trainer will always answer questions whether you are already a client or not.
I will wrap this up with just a few words of wisdom. Choose a trainer with whom you are comfortable. Do not choose a trainer that has cool videos and pictures. Choose one who you can understand. Choose one that will take time to answer questions on the phone. Choose one that has current relevant content. Choose one that has great reviews and references. Choose a trainer that has repeat clients. Choose a trainer that will show his/her work. This person should be a part of your life for years to come, so keep that in mind when choosing.
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