Yeah learning about dogs, dog body language, and training techniques is cool and all, but have you tried expanding your knowledge on the other side of dog training? I can't tell you how many talented dog trainers I know who have bad people skills, or who couldn't sell a bottled water to the thirstiest person in the world.
You need to expand your knowledge on marketing, selling and communication if you're looking to make an impact in your community or the industry as a dog trainer.
I know your time is valuable so I'll get right to it. Here are the major take aways I got from this book:
SURVEYING AND RESEARCH:
"...People wont tell you what you're doing wrong." If you misjudge a joke or if you completely fucked up the training, I have seen first hand how clients are very hesitant to bring that up face to face. Once the client left the trainer, complaints start pouring in to the supervisor, Yelp reviews get nasty, etc. etc. Usually right about then is when you hear the trainer say "They seemed so happy!". Remember, you have to be aware that unless you specifically ask, or see the glow in their face, you wont necessarily know if they are 100% satisfied with your services. So it's OK to ask!
MARKETING IS NOT A DEPARTMENT:
"Don't open a shop unless you know how to smile..." Don't be an asshole basically.
"...Your prospects face three options: Using your services, doing it themselves, or not doing it at all...in many cases, then, your biggest competitors are not your competitors. They are your prospects."
"Service businesses are about relationships. Relationships are about feelings."
"Don't assume that logical pricing is smart pricing. Maybe your price, which makes you look like a good value, actually makes you look second rate." This one hits some for a lot of us in the dog training industry as we tend to worry too much about how we should set our pricing.
"Merely saying you offer great service will never work. You have to document and demonstrate it."
"A service is a promise. You're selling the promise that at some future date, you will do something. This means what you really are selling is your honesty." I FREAKING LOVE THIS LINE!!!!
This is just a few of the powerful lines I got out of this book. My only complaint with the book is that the chapters are too short. I don't like long chapters, but this book is full of small chapters. You might actually like that because then there's no excuse to read "one more chapter" before you go to bed.
Hope this review helped you and I encourage you to read this great book!
Imagine you have this beautiful dog, the ideal look when you think of a dog. The nice soft eyes, the smile, the tail wag. Also imagine this dog is your best friend. It loves spending time with you, and it's just an all around nice dog.
When people, adopt, or purchase a dog, these are the images that run through their mind. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people get that ideal dog. The reason? In general, many people aren't very good at selecting the right dog for them. It's more than just looking at a few pictures online. It's more than seeing which dog comes running to you first. It's more than looking at the breed on wikipedia, and cherry picking only the traits you find desirable.
So how do you actually select the right dog for you?
You can drastically cut down on the improper selection if you already have an idea of what type of dog would suite you best BEFORE you go to the shelter or contact the breeder. Here are a few tips:
1) Forget about the looks!
If you start focusing on the looks, you're very likely to get the wrong dog. This is a very relative concept because what you may consider a good looking dog, someone else might consider an ugly dog. You might love dogs with short snouts, some people are more into dogs with pointy ears, etc. etc. But looks should not be a priority when it comes to making a commitment that could last over 10 years. I know several people and dogs that are not happy because the selection of their dog was based solely on looks/breed rather than personality and proper match-making.
2)Take inventory of your current lifestyle.
Nothing hurts a dog and dog owner relationship more than improper matchmaking due to lifestyle requirements. Here are couple of examples:
A couple of clients I had bought a poodle when they were in their 7o's or 80's. The husband himself was barely able to move. The wife was able to walk the dog once a day (On a good week) but the dog was too young, strong and adventurous for her. Through training, I was able to help them but if you're unable to provide a dog with proper mental and physical exercise, it's best for everyone involved that you reconsider.
A guy I knew, who was bound to a wheelchair, had a working dog. This was a very strong working dog with a genetic history of sports and police work. The guy tried his best, he was a very good trainer considering his limitations, and he still had to rehome the dog.
Both of these cases would have been better off with a more mellow type of dog.
3) Contact a dog trainer.
If you are able to get in touch with a knowledgeable and responsible dog trainer, it can be easier to choose the right dog. What can a knowledgeable dog trainer do for you? A well rounded dog trainer knows temperament, they understand matchmaking and they have plenty of previous experiences in which they had to help address improper matchmaking. This dog trainer can interview you, see what you're looking for and determine which type of dog would be your ideal companion. It may seem like hiring a dog trainer to do this with you would be very expensive, but the consultation alone many times is free of charge or very affordable, a couple of lessons to pay for the trainer's time to help you get the right dog and now you are more likely to get a dog that best matches your needs.
Remember, there's no rush to get a dog. You can always wait, or get a pet that requires less time and commitment.
Please read this bill being pushed in Massachusetts, which will affect the dog training industry in that state, and indirectly, the whole country at large. (Pay special attention the lines I highlighted and underlined)
CCPDT is known for having a Purely Positive stance on dog training, which can be very limited. I encourage you to check THIS LINK to see what their values are (They will be directly involved with this bill). When you see lines like: "Least Intrusive", "Minimally Aversive", or "Science Based", you know there's lots of medication and Euthanasia involved. I have first hand seen the failures Purely Positive training has had on the lives of dogs and their owners, both in terms or emotional and financial distress.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
There is a hearing scheduled on July, 22nd! SHOW UP!! THE HEARINGS ARE PUBLIC AND YOU WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO VOICE YOUR CONCERNS!!
If by the time you read this the hearing is over, contact the Legislative Director to voice your concern:
SECTION 1. Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General laws is hereby amended by adding the following section 137E:
SECTION 2. The following words in this section shall have the following meanings:
“Board” means the Dog Trainer Board of Examiners established under section 2 of this act.
“Director” means the Director of the Division of Professional Licensure
“Dog training” means the handling or training of dogs for a fee, salary, or other form of compensation.
“Dog trainer” means a person engaged in the practice of dog training or behavior modification who is licensed pursuant to the provisions of this act.
SECTION 3. There is hereby created within the Division of Professional Licensure the Dog Trainer Board of Examiners. The board shall consist of nine members who are residents of this State and who shall be appointed by the Governor, as follows: one member shall be from the Department of Agriculture; three members shall be, except for the members first appointed, dog trainers licensed pursuant to the provisions of this act; two members shall be veterinarians licensed in this State; and three members shall be affiliated with an animal protection group. The Governor shall appoint each member, other than the State executive department member, for terms of four years, except that of the members first appointed, two shall serve for a term of four years, two shall serve for a term of three years, two shall serve for a term of two years, and two shall serve for terms of one year. Any vacancy in the membership of the board shall be filled for the unexpired term in the manner provided for the original appointment. No member of the board may serve more than two successive terms in addition to any unexpired term to which the member has been appointed.
SECTION 4. The board shall organize within 30 days after the appointment of its members and shall annually elect from among its members a chairperson and vice-chairperson, and shall appoint a secretary who need not be a member of the board. The board shall meet twice a year and may hold additional meetings as necessary to discharge its duties. A majority of the board membership shall constitute a quorum.
SECTION 5. The board shall:
a. adopt a seal to authenticate its records and proceedings;
b. prescribe rules pertaining to types and methods of examination of applicants for licensure;
c. examine and pass on the qualifications of applicants for licensure under this act, and issue a license to each qualified and successful applicant, attesting to the applicant’s professional qualification to practice as a dog trainer;
d. keep records of its proceedings and a register of all persons to whom licenses have been issued, and a record of all license renewals, suspensions and revocations;
e. maintain records of expenses incurred by members of the board in the performance of their duties;
f. take disciplinary action, against any dog trainer who violates the provisions of this act or any regulation promulgated hereunder;
g. adopt rules and regulations as it deems necessary to administer the provisions of this act; and
h. Prescribe or change the charges for examination, licensure, renewal and other services performed.
SECTION 6. There shall be an Executive Director of the board appointed by the director who shall serve at the director's pleasure. The salary of the Executive Director shall be determined by the director within the limit of available funds. The director may, within the limits of available funds, hire any assistants as are necessary to administer this act.
SECTION 7. No person shall practice, attempt to practice, or hold himself out as being able to practice dog training unless that person is licensed in accordance with the provisions of this act.
SECTION 8. To be eligible to be licensed as a dog trainer, an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:
a. be at least 18 years of age;
b. be of good moral character; (WTF does that even mean?? Who gets to decide this??)
c. have successfully completed high school or successfully passed a high school equivalency examination developed by the General Education Development (GED) Testing Service;
d. have successfully completed a minimum of 300 hours in dog training, under the supervision of, and documented by, a dog trainer licensed pursuant to this act, within the three years immediately preceding application for licensure under this act pursuant to the following:
(1) of the 300 hours required, no less than 225 hours shall include training in conducting group dog training classes, conducting private dog training classes, and consulting with clients;
(2) of the 300 hours required, up to 75 hours may include work as a licensed dog trainer’s assistant, work as a veterinary technician or assistant, work as a dog groomer, volunteering at an animal shelter, designing dog training lesson plans, or consulting with a licensed dog trainer on client cases;
(3) hours of experience gained as a licensed dog trainer’s assistant may count toward the hours required under paragraph (1) of this subsection provided that the applicant’s role as an assistant includes actively instructing a client or training a dog;
(4) if any of the hours of experience gained under paragraph (2) of this subsection are not under the supervision of a licensed dog trainer, the applicant shall provide documentation from any other person that supervised the applicant, including, but not limited to, a veterinarian, an owner or supervisory employee of a dog grooming business, or a supervisory employee of an animal shelter; and
(5) the 300 hours of experience required under this subsection shall not apply to any applicant who submits proof satisfactory to the board no later than 180 days after the date procedures are established by the board for applying for licensure under this act that the applicant has engaged in the practice of dog training in this State continuously for at least one year prior to the effective date of this act; and
e. pass an examination administered or approved by the board to determine the applicant's competence to practice dog training; except that this requirement shall not apply to any applicant who submits proof satisfactory to the board no later than 180 days after the date procedures are established by the board for applying for licensure under this act that the applicant has passed any Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) certification examination, or any other examination that is determined by the board to be a substantially similar assessment of dog training skills and competency, prior to the effective date of this act.
SECTION 9. Each applicant for a license as a dog trainer shall be examined by the board. The examination shall be held at least twice a year at the times and places to be determined by the board. The board, in consultation with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), shall adopt as the examination required under this section any examination as developed and administered by CCPDT, or any other examination that is determined by the board to be a substantially similar assessment of dog training skills and competency.
SECTION 10. a. All licenses shall be issued for a three-year period and shall be renewed upon filing a renewal application.
b. All applicants shall pay a fee for licensure and renewal for licensure under this act. Fees shall be determined by the board and established by regulation. The revenue generated from these fees shall not exceed the operating costs incurred by the board in administering this act.
c. A license shall not be renewed until the license holder submits satisfactory evidence to the board that during the preceding three years the license holder has completed such continuing education credits as are to be determined by the board pursuant to regulation. The board shall approve, in consultation with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), continuing education credits that build upon the basic knowledge of dog training and which enhance the competency of the license holder. The board may make exceptions from the continuing education requirement in emergency or hardship cases with the approval of an affirmative vote of a majority of the board.
SECTION 11. This act shall take effect on January 1, 2021.
This is mostly a reminder for me but you're welcome to hitch a ride and go through this inner reflection with me. It may apply to you.
Every once in a while I forget why I ever picked up a leash, a treat pouch and tug for. I wanted something fun to do with my time. Along the process, I found what to this day seems to be my calling, working with dogs (Who knows when that might change).
But seriously, how often do you get pulled down by the expectations YOU create for yourself and your dog? How often are you actually having FUN? You may be an over achiever and fun might in fact come second to achieving, but what are you really saying when you prioritize outcome over the interaction that is taking place in front of you when you work with dogs? Look, people get frustrated when they work with animals, that's nothing new. It happens and it will continue to happen. The question you have to ask yourself is, am I really enjoying what I'm doing? Not necessarily at the moment, but in a more broad and general way. If you are CONSISTENTLY getting frustrated, anxious and emotionally distraught, you may need to change your approach, or change your hobby/career. For two reasons:
1) It's not fair TO THE DOG: You'll end up just not only upsetting yourself but also the dogs you work with. You basically become the asshole. Some dogs may recover from that quickly, some will shut down, some will make you PAY. The latter is not a common occurrence unfortunately.
2) It's not fair TO YOU: Why would you wanna do this if it constantly upsets you, gives you headaches and brings the worst out of you. You need the money? You basically only have ONE THING to look forward to if you don't enjoy the process, it's the outcome. Achieving is great and all, but if you put too much weight on the achieving part, the times you don't achieve (and they are coming), will hit you hard and you'll even get depressed. Again, this isn't healthy for you at all.
Have FUN! Let go of your expectations momentarily. Yes, every session counts, yes you need to strive to do better and become better, but ENJOY THE PROCESS. Step out for a moment and realize what is actually happening. There was a time in the past you wanted to do this! There was a time in the past that you thought this was the coolest thing in the world. Not long ago this was your goal and look at you now.
Another thing that might help is to surround yourself with people who actually enjoy what they do! I don't mean people who enjoy the achieving part, I mean people who enjoy both! People who enjoy the process, people who look forward to training just for the pleasure of training! It's contagious! Their joy toward training makes you enjoy your training or it makes you feel out of place when you're the only one who complains about the dog(s) you have to train.
And remember! Learn to expect more from you, than you expect from your dog.
If you’re talking about the evolution of dog training equipment, then why put a picture of hammers at the beginning?
That is because unlike dog training equipment that raises a whole set of issues that no one can agree on; let’s use
something that everyone in their life has probably seen if not used before, and everyone can agree is a useful tool that
carries very little ethical controversy.
Let’s start with the “Stone Age” of the hammer. Well look back up at the picture, you see the stones in the top left?
Those are literally what were used as the first hammers. Imagine how fun that must have been trying not to smash your
fingers. The next evolution of the hammer, which took about 2 million years later, added a handle made of wood or
bone, attached using straps of leather. Early users quickly figured out that the longer the handle the more force they
could apply with the hammer. There were two fundamental problems with these hammers and it has to do with the old
saying “flying off the handle”. The other was that since they could hit things with greater force, the rocks and straps
didn’t last long.
This brings us to the Bronze Age, where people began to forge hammers out of bronze with holes in the middle for a
tapered wooden handle. Again this was a great improvement on the older hammers, and I’m sure if you gave someone
a choice at the time they would have chosen to use the improved tool. There still stands the problem of durability, since
bronze is a softer metal, then hammers had to be reformed after heavy usage. So what did the people of that time do?
They found a harder metal, Iron. With blacksmithing in full swing this led to many more useful things but since we are
on the subject of hammers, let’s talk about nails. When nails were introduced they were very expensive because every
nail was hand made. Why bring this up you ask, because it created another need. The need to recover coveted nails
instead of just letting them go to waste, and again the hammer made a change adding the ability to pull nails.
Now this is an article about dog training equipment so I’m not going to go into every little detail, but keep in mind how
many different hammers there are out there. How many different materials they are made out of and how they were
altered to better fit its intended job. The last thing I would like to discuss is the introduction of the pneumatic nail gun.
This invention changed the building industry forever. Think about how fast you can pound in four inch nail, and realize
that a pneumatic nail gun can drive that nail in a split second. Imagine how much faster houses and buildings can be
erected or renovated. This type of lineage can be traced back in every tool or item that you use today, but how does
this pertain to dog training?
In every situation the hammer was evolved or improved to help solve a problem or improve its ability to be useful. Now
let’s talk about an early training tool, throw chains. As some may be aware and some maybe not, throw chains were
used to punish a dog from a distance. Whether you were trying to stop a problem behavior or you were working on
your recalls, throw chains fell short for many reasons. Some of those shortcomings are; injury to the dog or the trainer,
the ability of the trainer to throw accurately as well as how far they could throw. It also made it hard for the dog to not
associate the chains to your presence, which may hinder your ability to stop problem behaviors you don’t want the dog
to do even when you’re not around. Not to mention a big factor in dog training is that dogs are much, much faster than humans are. That means that we have to figure out a way to bridge the gap in our speed and make it a little more even playing field. The ability to communicate at a distance as well as maintain the ability to catch your dog is what probably led to the use of long lines, as well as light lines. In addition dogs obviously do not speak English. In fact dogs primary means of communication isn’t verbal it is physical. They do this through body language, as well as using their mouths for correction bites. If dogs use correction bites, and they can accomplish those without injury to the other dog, then why not use their form of communication.
This is what led to the development of the many martingale style training collars. Someone figured out a way to mimic
the correction bite of a dog and gave humans a way to communicate with their dog the same way they communicate
with each other. Thus increasing the ability of dogs and their owners to communicate effectively and have a better
understanding of expectations between the two parties. Now although this made great strides in training there are a
few drawbacks outside of the normal ethical battle that is always ensuing about training equipment.
Personally there are three issues that I run into with these types of training equipment, besides improper use. First,
although the use of the collar should be used in a neutral emotional state, there is still some physical conflict between
the handler and the dog, and although there are many things you can do to mitigate that conflict, like a high reward
history, but wouldn’t it be nice to just not have that? The second is the training collars are only effective at the length of
the leash you are using. Yes there are things you can do to mitigate that such as marking a mistake with the word “no”,
but again can’t it be easier? Lastly, the training collars have to be operated by you through direct contact making it very
hard to remove yourself from the situation making it very difficult to take care of problem behaviors that happen when
you’re not immediately present.
So the question is, why use archaic methods or tools when a new more efficient tool has been invented? Is a carpenter
less of a carpenter for using a pneumatic nail gun instead of a rock tied to a stick? To me it just makes sense to use the
most advanced tools of my trade, but in the end that is the question you must answer for yourself. At the very least,
next time you want to ridicule a trainer for their use of a tool, maybe, just maybe, you will realize that a tool doesn’t
define the user; the user defines the tool through increased efficiency and proper use.
Canine Training and Behavior Specialist.