Whenever I interviewed for a job in the past, I always hated the question, “So why should I hire you?” It sounded aggressive, put me on the defense, and my answers always seemed generic and trite.
Not true anymore.
Now I absolutely love when a potential client asks me for my credentials, my experience and my methods. The client who asks for this information most likely wants to get the most for their money, doesn’t want to fall for gimmicks, and they probably care about the welfare of their dog. This client is trying to be a smart consumer and a good dog owner.
Dog training is an unregulated industry. Any of your neighbors, whether they have ever even lived with a dog or not, can put up a sign or post on the internet that they are dog trainers and charge money for their services. To me this is really frightening—can you imagine going to a dentist whose only education was watching some video tutorials online?
There are a lot of reasons to hire a trainer. Training on your own can feel like you are constantly wading through a swamp of murky, contradicting methods and never getting anywhere. A good trainer will have a system of lesson plans that she has used successfully for many dogs, and she will share those plans with you and break them down into simple, straightforward steps. A reputable trainer will coach you with the mechanics of dog training, help you be consistent, and get you through frustrating stages. Joining a training class will connect you with other dog owners who are going through the same cycles of success and setbacks, with everyone working toward the same goals.
Training should feel like a fun balance of hard work and quality time with your dog. If someone promises you quick and simple fixes to complicated behaviors, you need to think about what they are truly selling. It often involves inflicting pain or fear on your dog, no matter how it is packaged.
Our trainers and the trainers we refer spend hours in continuing education courses devoted to the science of animal behavior and canine cognition. We attend workshops, webinars and take our own dogs through classes. We volunteer with shelter animals and rescue organizations, read a lot of books, and subscribe to newsletters and magazines from both national and international professional organizations.
Without using intimidation or causing physical harm, I will improve your relationship with your dog. I will reward your dog for exhibiting the behaviors we want with things the dog likes such as food, toys and access to walks or outdoor play. I will punish the dog for unwanted behaviors by taking away the things he likes. I will teach you to do the same. Solid education, extensive experience and positive methods should be the only criteria for hiring any dog trainer.
For more information on all of the dog training services we provide at the Louisiana SPCA, please visit www.la-spca.org/training.