Q. What types of customers have you worked with?
A. We really don't have a "common type" of job. At any given time we have trainers counseling puppy owners on housebreaking, socialization and character development, while others teach basic obedience or develop working dogs for service work, therapy-dog work or family protection. Like any trainer, each of our associates has particular strengths that we match with our clients needs. We do get excited about puppy work and feel that it's often the key to success. This may be why we have a reputation for producing happy, easy to live with companion dogs.
Q. What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
A. Look for meaningful credentials: certifications that go beyond a weekend workshop. Ask for references. Listen carefully to find out if the trainer has an agenda of their own for every dog or if they are hearing you and your dog speak about your individual needs. Ask to observe the trainer at private lesson or to see a current or recent Board & Train dog perform obedience.
For services that extend beyond a single lesson/consult the following should be obtained:
1. a written evaluation clearly describing your goals, your dogs temperament and the general approach to training.
2. a written training plan that takes your dog from evaluation to completion
Q. What questions should customers think through before talking to
professionals about their project?
A. Companion dogs, as opposed to working dogs (competition, service, herding, etc.) have no object performance criteria. They don't "fail" in the same way a working dog might. As a result many companion dog trainers are not focused on reaching goals or predicting results for their clients. They tend to promise everything and let the chips fall where they may. There's no reason this should be. The trainer should help the owner frame their goals with a clear road map to success and reassessments of progress along the way. In addition, It should be understood that trainers are not licensed professionals; they do not have to adhere to minimal standards of achievement, ethics or performance and no continuing education is required. It is up to the client to be diligent in researching the trainers credentials and demanding professional service.