An Open Letter to Dog Trainers:

After 8 years of watching the results of shelters and animal control I knew what dog owners needed. You can’t have people hand you their dog and not figure it out after ten or fifteen thousand. Yes, they lie on exit questionnaires. That should be assumed. They say what they can to get themselves off the moral hook. As they are new to the process of giving up a dog the use trite, non-justifications – they’re moving, The dog digs holes. It jumps the fence. All may be true – but the questionnaire readers swallow the lies and discount the truth. That is because they haven’t received 10,000 dogs from people. They extract the data and then twist it to their own purpose.

So, if someone says that the dog continues to escape and they can’t afford the animal control citations, do you have an answer? The experts I found, way back between 1977-1985, didn’t. If they say the dog jumps up on the kids and sent one of them to the ER with a concussion, would you know how to stop that immediately and prevent the dog from being released at the shelter? The experts from 77-85 didn’t. (Many still don’t, today)

That is why I do what I do. That is why I created solutions where none existed. That is why I can stop serious problems rapidly and allow the family to forget about getting rid of their dog.

I designed my business to confront the common problems head-on. The solutions must work fast, for a reasonable price and have a lasting effect on the dog’s behavior. If you can’t pass the baton to the owner, it’s a fail. If you offer solutions that are time-consuming, weak and complex, they won’t work. It is the typical client who sets the bar – not the trainer. Too often I hear trainers complain about their clients with a condescending tone. They never consider that maybe their way of training wasn’t created with the needs of the client as the primary concern.

If you lose a client because all they want is to have the dog not charge the front door and your solution is ‘foundational obedience’, it’s not their fault. They told you what they wanted – you couldn’t deliver. If they want the dog to stay, come and respond to its name and you need an e-collar, you just put your price $100 more than a more skilled trainer. Why would someone pay more for the same service? Why would they pay more for a lesser service? Why would they pay anything at all to someone who doesn’t actually listen to them?

If you start looking at this as a service that has standards of success that are dictated by the client, I promise you will succeed. If you do things based on hearsay, created by people most interested in making a name for themselves and all that brings with it, you’ll forever be limited in your abilities.

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Dog Trainers:

  1. Gary, Cindy sent this too me. Boy isn’t it the truth. Every professional dog trainer should use this as their business plan.

  2. “If you start looking at this as a service that has standards of success that are dictated by the client, I promise you will succeed.” Yes, great point. Sometimes we need a reminder to keep things simple.

  3. This letter contains the best advice any dog trainer can benefit from. I’m so thankful that my practices fall directly in line with what you have outlined. I love the statement, “if you can’t pass the baton to the owner, it’s a fail.” Sure, having a fat bank account is comforting but getting fast/reliable results, making client’s lives better, and doing it for reasonable prices is what makes me sleep well at night. Thanks for all that you do Gary!!!

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