Many average trainers teach “average group classes,” charge you an “average price” and have, well… that “average” knowledge and skill about dogs, dog training, dog behavior and canine psychology. Most owners who don’t know better or who don’t really care about these facts, just settle with such trainers and end up with “average results” or even worse-NO RESULTS-in training their dogs! In contrast, the Master Minds I’ll be describing in this chapter aren’t your average at all and are known to beat the odds.
So who emerges from the pack? There is an amazing energy and spirit about these individuals which you’ll notice right away that goes far beyond dog training. In fact, they know it is much more than dealing with dogs, and this is where I’ll open your eyes to the traits and qualities of the SMARTEST and the most successful dog experts in the business. Because of their knowledge, skill and persona, they are not only making it–but making it big with class and integrity. Again, don’t forget that I’m referring to the SMARTEST, so you don’t think that they just got lucky for being at the “right place,” at the “right time” or by meeting the “right person.” Even if that was the case for a few to some degree, before you know it, they took over and kept on paddling on their own.
I learned a long time ago that if you want to get better in anything, you have to put your ego aside and learn from much better and smarter minds than yourself.
Sometimes this simply came down to hiring the best expert money can buy. (I’ve also learned a lot from the worst-of-the-worst. After all, this is where you learn what NOT to do.) After studying those who were considered to be as the “real deal,” I’ve noticed that they all came from a totally different class and mentality, and it’s no wonder why their success rate was so hard to ignore. When put through the test, they all possessed these ten qualities about them:
1. They Care about You, Your Dog and Their Reputation
You see, it’s not always about how much you know or how great you are, but it is also about how much you “care.” This simply means these trainers are truly nice people. The old saying, “nice guys finish last,” isn’t their motto. Studies have shown that nice people live longer, are happier, get more referrals, are always surrounded by friends and relatives, rarely get sued, and rarely get killed. Some may also have a great sense of humor. Sorry, only some. We all know someone with a sense of humor and know that this shows that they love what they do, don’t let things bother them as much, and care to make others if not laugh, at least smile here and there. Why the majority of dog trainers are so rude, mean, and disrespectful and act like Mr./Mrs. Know-It-All, is beyond me. It’s no secret that most of the time you can tell a lot about someone the minute you talk to them on the phone or in person. That again is, if, you are even able to reach any of them on the phone. Which brings up the fact of caring, once again.
Those who truly CARE not only will get back to you, but often try to reach you immediately. They know that you may need help right away!! You’ll soon find out that most dog trainers leave you hanging and you start to grow gray hair waiting for a call back or an e-mail.
Once you are finally able to get a live person on the phone, make sure you get a good vibe from the very start, if not, why bother? This simply means no matter how good they may be, you will be stuck with a jerk, psycho, weirdo, nut job and the list goes on and on. Women are much better than men with their intuition. They say, “It has to feel right.” Or “I didn’t get a good vibe from him/her.” If it the person makes you feel uncomfortable by being too pushy, rude, condescending, or there is something you don’t like about him/her, then you could be stuck with this person in your home, in private, or for six to eight weeks down the line.
Top trainers usually answer your tough questions with patience and respect and don’t mind or get offended by how much you challenge their knowledge or expertise. These individuals don’t just deliver, but often OVER-deliver. This is because they care about their image and their reputation and truly want to stand out from the pack. They know going that extra mile WILL get them that extra attention. After all, how many times have you hired a painter, a contractor, an attorney, or even a babysitter who disappointed you with their poor work ethics? They did a poor job or didn’t care much. As some say, “They just go with the flow,” and never care about any constructive criticism from ANYONE. You simply don’t see that “wow factor” or that “pizzazz” in their work. Noooooooo, I didn’t say pizza again. So put down the Parmesan cheese.
If you’ve already hired a dog trainer in the past, you probably went out of your way to make sure you were hiring a “pro,” just to find out that they were definitely a “pro” but also a pro in doing a lousy job or a pro in–”ripping you off!” How fast someone gets back to you, or even if, they even bother to get back to you are all the qualities you should look for. For example, a lot of group class trainers if they don’t have a class starting soon, or their class happens to be full, won’t even bother to call you back. They even get lazy to mention this on their answering machine. This would never happen with those who actually care about you and your dog.
Once you get to actually talk to these individuals, you can’t help it but notice how honest, caring, genuine, and professional they come across.
Whether it is in person, on the phone, or by e-mail, the ones who know they are on top of their game never sound pushy or desperate. In fact, they know not everyone recognizes, appreciates, or even deserves the very best. This is just a fact of life. Those who are among the best-of-the-best in the world of dog training, are considered to be as remarkable teachers/counselors and don’t get mad when I add this-even great therapists. The truth is, that the majority of dog owners have no technique, get nervous, act tense, are too harsh with their dog, get too loud, or they can’t get firm enough if and when needed. And what’s even more sad is none of the trainers who they even hired in the past, bothered to point out their GOOD qualities either. Everybody knows it’s not that hard to point out someone’s weaknesses. What makes a good trainer brilliant is his/her ability to praise the owners’ good habits while correcting their mistakes in a courteous manner. Unfortunately the majority of dog trainers lack people skills and are famous for treating the owners like dogs. I had to learn this the hard way. So the ones that DO make a positive impact among dog owners are the ones that know there is a difference between insulting someone and giving a critique.
You see, there are thousands of great “trainers” out there, thousands–but only a few great “instructors!” Training and teaching the owners is where lies the real challenge.
2. Their Training Method Is Backed by Common Sense
As a writer I hate saying this, but please don’t believe everything you read-especially things that just don’t make any sense. If you don’t see any logic or rationality behind it, how do you suppose your poor dog is going to make any sense out of it? Here’s an example. I have a client who owns a Cocker Spaniel that was vicious toward dogs and children. The behaviorists advised her to do lots of parallel walks with bag of treats to use when she ran into other dogs and kids. The dog would stop eating the treats and STILL lunge at any dog they encountered. I guess he saw them as a dessert after those yummy treats. Again, there was no common sense behind the behaviorist’s advice, was there?
When in doubt, always ask yourself: Does this seem rational? Am I getting anywhere with this? Are people going to laugh at me?
Even with what you read in my book or on my website, observe it with an open mind and maybe TRY it first, and then be the judge. Once you try something, then you can be certain whether it did or did not work for you and your dog. Otherwise you are just relying on assumptions instead of facts. The same rule applies if you are instructed by your trainer, see it on television, were instructed by your trainer in a group class, or even if it comes from someone with a Ph.D. you need to stop and ask yourself where’s the logic and practicality behind their advice? Be smart about it and don’t let others brainwash you by trying methods that have no rationality to support them. Smart trainers don’t mind asking you, “Does this make sense to you?” or “Do you see the logic behind what we are trying to accomplish?” Again, if it doesn’t make any sense, please don’t make a fool out of yourself.
Smart Dogs – Dumb Trainers:
Trainers who recommend that you should bark at your dog, growl at your dog, yelp like a dog, or ignore your dog’s bad habits such as jumping up on you, barking at you, don’t make sense and their tactics won’t work. If they do, knock yourself out. Folks, we were taught to use common sense from a very early age in kindergarten. In case you forgot, the teaching was:
“Stop and Think.” It wasn’t “Go for it Chopper! Then we’ll think of the consequence.” (Now for some of us, getting the lesson afterward works much better. I guess as long as we “get it” that’s all it really matters, doesn’t it?)
3. They Have an Uncanny Ability to Pay Attention to Details
Yes, details my dog-loving friend. These experts are like a sponge and absorb everything and hardly miss even the smallest details. ( I’ve been told that I’m like that. Just in case it will come as a shock for those of you who prefer to hire me in person.) Whether people request that I go to them or if they prefer to send their dogs to me to be trained or rehabilitated, like a skilled crime scene investigator,