What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
First I let my new client know that I only train with positive reward-based methods that build the best relationship with their dog while working on their training plans.
Then, it's important to talk with my clients and find out their issues with their dog(s) and what their priorities are. I also like to give them some idea of how difficult it is to work on the problems they are having and generally how long it usually takes.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I am a graduate of The Academy for Dog Trainers - a rigorous 2 year program that focuses on all positive reward-based methods that are scientifically proven. I don't use any aversives including choke collars, pinch collars, or electric shock collars.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your service? If so, please share the details here.
My private sessions are $69 for a single hour and $180 for 3 one-hour sessions. I also hold Puppy and Basic Obedience classes which are $129 for each 6-week course. These are held at my shop in the Monument Shopping Plaza.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
After a long career in computer engineering, I began volunteering for our local Humane Society (HSPPR). Through them I was able to volunteer for the ASPCA to support dogs seized in criminal cases such as dog fighting, hoarding and puppy mills. It was there that I discovered my passion for working with dogs in all positive ways to get them to learn in a way that they obviously enjoyed. I left my IT career behind and am now a full time dog trainer.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Most of my customers have "normal" dog issues such as leash pulling, play biting, jumping up, house training, barking and destructive behaviors to name a few. Some have more difficult issues like dog reactivity or stranger fear. I've worked with all of these.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
Recently, I had a family whose children had left the nest so they decided to adopt a dog with some behavior issues. He would lunge at other dogs, bark his head off, pull on the leash and just be out of control for them. In working with the wife, we were able to get him to pay attention to her, showed her how to get him to walk on a loose leash, and really reduce his lunging and reacting to other dogs. He even barks less as she has learned how to keep his attention on her. All these things we did using positive training methods! They are all so much happier now!
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Be careful who you hire to help you train or modify the behavior of your dog. Anyone can legally call themselves a dog trainer. Just because they have spent their lives with dogs doesn't mean they have learned the proper or most effective ways to help you with your dog. They may say they have a way with dogs and don't need to use treats to train. A dog must have motivation to work and learn for you - if it's not positive then it's negative - which means jerking on their neck, showing them who's boss, shocking them or other aversive methods. Fear is easy to instill, but very hard to get rid of. Please look for a trainer that will help you build a positive bond with your dog!
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
Are you prepared to put in the time and training suggested by your dog trainer? Or would a board and train option would suit you better? The first is certainly cheaper, but the second is going to accelerate the results for most issues.
Often training issues can be resolved most cost effectively by taking an obedience class. Is this the best option for you?
If your dog's issues are severe such as being extremely fearful, separation anxiety, or compulsive licking or chewing themselves, have you spoken to your vet about medications that could help? Would you be open to that?