One of the things I love most about my job is that every day is different. Each owner/dog pair I work with is unique and I play a variety of roles – dog trainer, coach, cheerleader – to be most effective. Most of my clients realize at some point during the training process that I’m not only training their dog, I’m really training them! Luckily for the humans I work with I believe in positive reinforcement for training people too.
Most owners are very hard on themselves when they first take control of the leash and treats after watching me demonstrate the particular command or technique we’re working on during our session. They often feel awkward with the tools and struggle at first with getting the timing right. Many times the dogs aren’t the only ones working on breaking old habits like repeating commands – a big no-no with me!
This is where I go from dog trainer to coach and cheerleader. Training is a skill that develops with time and practice. Just like you don’t expect your dog to get something new on the first try (at least you shouldn’t) I know you need time to hone your new role as trainer. I don’t expect you to get it all right away and luckily, neither does your dog. I start by breaking your task into small and manageable steps – getting your coordination and timing right, communicating clearly with your dog and patience while he or she learns to work you. Clients are often frustrated with their rate of progress and focus on the steps they haven’t yet mastered rather than their successes. I coach you one step at a time, letting you know when you are doing things right and allowing you to be successful at one step before asking you to incorporate something new. Just like when I’m working with your dog, I gradually increase the criteria until you have perfected your training techniques. It doesn’t take long before both pet and owner are making progress and gaining confidence.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is, do you train husbands and kids? I always respond with same techniques, different treats. And I’ve heard some favorable reviews on my idea for freeze-dried beer treats for the husbands!