Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. Most often I am called in for general manners. And the number one diagnosis I make is that the dog is not being exercised properly. A tired dog is a good dog!
Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.
A. I was working with a couple and their Great Dane mix who had been through 4 trainers before they called me. When I started working with him he was quite "neurotic" for a dog, not sniffing the ground or caring about other dogs, just going crazy at the sight of a runner a quarter mile off in the distance. By the end of our lessons, he had calmed right down and became a dog once more: sniffing the grass and even learned to run next to a bike he previously wanted to chase frantically!
I had a client with a border collie mix who was going to group classes but dropped out and switched to my training program when it was discovered the group classes were expected to take a year and a half to prepare the dog to pass a therapy dog certification. After 5 lessons in 5 weeks' time with Traveling Dog Trainer, Maggie has passed her exam!
I had a client with a Miniature Dachshund puppy who was quite a handful, very active and was so good at ignoring her owners you might think she was hard of hearing! :-) At the end of her 5 lesson Complete Fundamentals Training, she was very calm, patient, and polite...exactly the dog her owners wanted her to be!
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Make sure you are comfortable with the training method the trainer uses and that they have a firm grasp of canine behavior. If they misread a dog's body language, they could prescribe the wrong plan of action for you & your dog(s). Also, if you aren't comfortable with the trainer & his methods, you won't follow through & consistency is necessary for success with your dog(s)!
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. There is no national standard for dog trainers. For instance all lawyers must pass a bar exam, but there is no such test for trainers. A lot of knowledge is needed, but also balanced with natural ability. Finding a good trainer is no small task! It's definitely buyer beware unfortunately.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. How long have you been in business?
What kind of breed experience do you have?
Can you provide references?
Do you guarantee results?
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. I have an uncanny ability to read dogs. From the shyest to the most aggressive, they all respond favorably to me. Most importantly, I am a people person. The key to successful dog training is that the dogs' owners having the ability to replicate my interactions with the dogs in order to maintain the results they desire. Most trainers don't relate well to people since they're in it for the dogs.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. Getting inside the mind of problem dogs is fascinating for me, but my favorite has to be the opportunity to meet all the varied and fantastic people that own the dogs. It's always thrilling to build a rapport with the people so I know they will always call on me when they have problems with their pooch before any drastic decisions need to be made.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. My most frequent question has got to be: can you please come live with me/us? My answer is always that I am training you to be me when I can't be here!
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. Most of the time people misinterpret dog behavior because it's our nature to view them through human eyes. So it makes it imperative for me to actually see the dog before I can diagnose the problem. I've been called in before for two puppies being aggressive when they were just playing and wrestling. And most of my behavior solutions are counter intuitive to what we do with other humans, but that's because I'm teaching them to "speak dog"!
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. I've trained dogs since I was 7 years old though my parents had no knowledge of training to give me. Once I graduated from Texas A&M, all my friends & family said I was too good at helping them with their dogs for me to not go into training professionally. So, here I am, several hundred dogs trained later, and loving every minute of it!
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I am always watching dogs interact with each other to learn any new nuances in their interactions I might have missed before. Also, I try I stay up on the latest training trends and medical breakthroughs as well as nutritional research via the Internet and independently published magazines such as Your Dog and The Whole Dog Journal. I also try to attend conferences when my schedule allows such as The Art & Science Of Animal Training Conference at UNT.
Q. What is your greatest strength?
A. My greatest strength is my calmness. No matter how aggressive or stressed a dog may be, my calmness always remains overriding and it never fails to become contagious to the dog & people I work with.
Q. What are you currently working on improving?
A. Currently I'm trying to improve the business side of dog training. For instance, I am currently getting my websites professionally upgraded. Being a trainer & behaviorist first & foremost means this is an area that always needs more attention!