Frequently Asked Questions: About Becoming A Dog Trainer (part 3)
Hopefully y’all got a lot of great information out of the last two posts. Last week, I asked you guys via Facebook what questions you have about becoming a dog trainer. In this post, I’m going to share your questions and my answers!
Question #1: “When it comes to behavioral modification, is it difficult to communicate with the dog’s owners when it comes to more severe issues, or have you found the most are willing to listen?” – Kaitlyn
Answer: When it comes to severe behavior issues, I try to explain things as simply as possible. I’m the middle man in many ways in that I have to understand what’s going on in the dog’s head then explain it to the owners in a way that makes sense. I’ve found that using human analogies is really helpful for this. As far as owners being willing to listen to me, you bet they are! I am a professional dog trainer with a high success rate for behavior rehab. I’m knowledgeable, confident and honest. I don’t sugarcoat things, and I’m always very open about the rehab process so owners understand it’s a process and not an overnight transformation.
Question #2: “Have you personally ever come across a dog who could not be rehabilitated, and how should those situations (if they arise) be handled?” – Kaitlyn
Answer: No trainer is 100% successful when it comes to rehabilitating dogs, and if you find a trainer who says they are they’re lying! I have a very high success rate when it comes to rehabilitating dogs (about 95% right now), and I am usually able to not only meet but exceed the owner’s rehab goals for their dog. At the end of the day if you’ve been unsuccessful at rehabilitating a dog then you need to ask yourself: “Is this dog a danger to society?” If the answer is Yes, and if all resources have been exhausted (vet check-up, rescue groups etc) then the dog should be euthanized. Of the 100s of dogs I’ve rehabilitated, only one has had to be euthanized.
Question #3: “What do you find most rewarding in this line of work, and what is the most discouraging? Does the good outweigh the not-so-good more often than not?” – Kaitlyn
Answer: I love watching the relationship grow between owners and their dogs. Relationships built on trust, communication and respect. I love watching dogs relax, learn and enjoy the training process. I love hearing owners’ stories and seeing the smiles on their faces when they tell me how great their dog is doing. The good outweighs the bad 100 to 1.
Question #4: Regarding adding training to a boarding and grooming business: “What certs are best recognized? What order would you take certs? On average, how much does a class cost and how long is a cert class?” – Shelby
Answer: Shelby, I think the previous two blog posts should answer these questions. If not, feel free to email me so I can provide better answers!
Question #5: “Is there a particular type of training that should be focused on first?” – Shelby
Answer: I recommend starting with Basic Obedience training. It’s the bread and butter of what I do here at Valor K9 Academy. It also has the smallest risk with the biggest reward. Wait until you’re an expert at teaching basic to advanced obedience before branching out to rehabilitation, specialty training, sport work etc.
Question #6: “What kind of money do you make as a trainer? I would guess it varies based on experience and the final product, but when considering an expensive certification what kind of income can you expect long term?” -Jordan
Answer: Realistically, if you play your cards right, you can expect to make $10,000+ per month as a dog trainer.
Question #7: “Is it hard to work with other people’s dogs? I love working with my own but I thought working with others could be frustrating.” – Cailee
Answer: Great question! That’s what distinguishes dog trainers from pet owners who train dogs. To be honest, I love working with other people’s dogs. Doesn’t mean I love everybody’s dogs and want to bring them home with me, but I enjoy helping people train their dogs. To be a truly great dog trainer, you have to love training more than just your dog. To find out if you really want to be a trainer, start by volunteering at the shelter then offer to help friends with their dogs.
Question #8: “How much room/land does a trainer need, especially if they’re boarding?” – Katherine
Answer: I started Valor K9 Academy in my teeny tiny apartment in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I took advantage of the large partially-fenced backyard, local parks, downtown areas and apartment’s parking lot for training sessions. Do the best you can with what you’ve got. My philosophy is to start small and grow organically in a manner that’s realistic and affordable. Don’t put yourself into a bunch of debt buying more than you need. That debt will put unnecessary pressure on you and could take all the fun (and profits) out of it!
I am fortunate now to be on 5 acres with a 40×60′ training facility and 10×40′ kennel run. It’s more than I need, but I use every square foot of it, and I’m very thankful for it!
Question #9: “How many dogs can you work in a week or month?” – Katherine
Answer: More than I could three years ago! This question is hard to answer, because it varies, and because I don’t work all the dogs I CAN work in a week or month, I work as many dogs as I WANT to work. I’m a firm believer in balance – not only for dog training but also in life – so I don’t work 24/7. That said, I am training more dogs now than I was three years ago in the same amount of time because as I’ve gained experience, I’ve become quicker and more efficient at doing things. If you remember anything, remember this: Never sacrifice quality for quantity. Let that be your guiding theme, and you’ll be successful.
Question #10: “What are your different training philosophies?” – Jordan
Answer: I am a balanced dog trainer. Yet…of all the times I’ve answered this question, I still don’t think I have a perfect, concise answer yet because while it is a simple question, the answer is quite complex. I believe in balanced dog training. I believe in knowing how to expertly use all four quadrants of dog training in the blink of an eye. I believe that every dog is different and that the appropriate training method will change throughout the training process. I believe that dogs are social, intelligent creatures who enjoy learning and can be easily trained when motivated. I believe in teaching dogs using reward-based methods (treats, praise etc) so they have a good attitude towards training, but I don’t believe in bribing dogs. Treats are an important part of training, but they shouldn’t be the only reason a dog obeys. I believe that corrections, training collars and other such things are a necessary component in dog training for most dogs. Why? Because dogs aren’t robots, and when the time comes for a dog to obey he’s going to choose to obey or not. Sometimes the dog chooses to obey because he knows he’ll be rewarded for it, sometimes the dog chooses to obey because he knows that if he obeys he’ll be rewarded and if he disobeys he’ll be punished. For some dogs, the dislike for punishment outweighs the like for rewards. Both praise and punishment are motivators; the question is: Which one should be used, when, why, how much, how often…
My training isn’t always cupcakes and butterflies, but it’s effective. It’s effective for young puppies, adult dogs and dogs on death row. It’s effective, reliable, fair and makes life easier for both the owner and the dog. My training changes the way people live with their dogs. It improves the owner-dog relationship. It strengthens the bond. It gives dogs new opportunities and a chance to live better, more meaningful lives as part of the family because of their new and improved behavior.
My training methods stem from my love for dogs, and my methods work on every dog regardless of age, breed or temperament.
Question #11: “I don’t think I can tolerate the average pet owner. How do you do it?”
Answer: The clients you end up with depends largely on how you market yourself. Ninety-five percent of my clients are awesome. They trust me, they listen to me and they do their homework because I’m confident, honest and upfront with them and because I charge enough for them to take me seriously!
March 04, 2018
February 18, 2018
February 11, 2018