The Dog Training industry is a rapidly growing trade with many turning from dog lover to dog trainer in a very short space of time without formal or industry recognised qualification. The current situation is that the industry is largely unregulated and as a result many different trainers or training providers offer a range of different classes or courses that are in some cases misleading promoting a false sense of ability and understanding. Until such time as the industry is regulated there will be many who will continue to claim that it is not necessary to receive professional training before positioning oneself as a professional trainer or behaviourist.
The situation is further confused by the myriad of different qualifications, post nominal letters, or affiliation to associations and organisations. Badges of honour or association with elitist groups do not ensure quality, ability, or professional standards. The truth is that some organisations are open to anyone who can pay the entrance fee or meet specified criteria seldom related to the promotion of professional and ethical dog training standards. Some make claims that are quite simply impossible to achieve, but nonetheless they continue to tap into your emotions and suggest otherwise.
So how do I choose someone I hear you asking? Simply put, you need to take your time and ask those that you are considering working with difficult questions about who they are and where they have come from? Never part with your money until you know exactly who it is that you have enlisted. Adopt a similar approach to that relied upon when seeking tradesmen to work on your home or perhaps coaches or tutors working with your children.
Only recently was it necessary for me to clean up the mess left behind following the exasperating service delivered by an amateur trainer claiming professional status. Clearly possessing no knowledge of how dogs learn or taking into consideration individual breed characteristics the unskilled individual armed the unsuspecting owner with a weapon to thwart aggressive approaches. Cans and cartons filled with stones, water pistols, rolled up newspapers, aerosol cans, these are the types of tools that may very well suppress a behaviour but do not get to the heart of the matter. Suppressing a behaviour has the potential to lead to other behavioural problems developing. A rolled up newspaper to thwart an energetic and mischievous terrier is likely to lead to one thing, and one thing only, the escalation of aggression. The aggression may not necessarily be immediate, but it will return with a vengeance at some point.
I often muse over the following questions; How can one claim professional status if not working or training dogs full time? How can one claim to be a professional trainer without receiving professional tuition from an appropriate source? Clearly there will always be exceptions to the rule, with truly gifted people. Like the golfer who has never had any formal training yet can play golf once a year and beat everyone on the course. This does happen, but the reality is that these people are few and far between and can rarely explain the talent that they possess. We all strive for the unconscious competence, yet this seldom comes without years of practice and exposure.
For the vast majority of dog owners dogs are our pride and joy, our valued companions. The Way of the Dog believes that dog owners should tread very carefully when seeking out people to work with their faithful companions. Do your homework, take your time, and check credentials.
Share your tips or experiences on how to select a trainer here and help others to make the right decision about their dogs future.
More to follow on this subject.