Part 2 of 3: Training Series - Training the Trainer
The ability to train dogs is not a simple task to accomplish. It takes a base of knowledge that is put into play through experiences with different behavioral problems in different settings. The way to become a well-rounded trainer comes from having these experiences. However, just because a person has mastered the art and ability to train a dog doesn’t mean much if he/she does not consider how other people learn as much as how dogs learn.
Sure, there are professional dog trainers who just train dogs all day long but a majority of them are responsible for training owners to train their own dogs. Training the novice trainer is even more daunting than training the most problematic dog. The professional trainer has to teach someone, the owner, to be consistent in order to reshape a dog’s behavior. Professional trainers assess a dog’s needs, come up with a plan to fix the behavior, and then train the same person who, in many cases, helped cause the problem to arise in the first place.
Reading people is as much of a task as reading the dog and coming up with a plan that will work for the owner and educating them is what it is all about. For example, if an owner lets his dog have free reign of the house because he thinks kennels are inhumane but is having troubles with potty training, telling him he has to kennel his dog isn’t going to be readily accepted. Instead, educating the owner that dogs, by nature, are den animals and typically like to have their own space to retreat to after the initial newness and stress of being in the kennel wears off. Also providing him with different options is beneficial. If he would prefer to use potty pads and a safe confined area that is an option, but he could also teach the dog to hold its bladder/bowels with an appropriately sized kennel and not have to worry about purchasing potty pads or always having to have them around. Sometimes it is beneficial to remind owners while things are difficult during the training process, if the work is done they’ll have the rest of the dog’s life to enjoy their bond.
Knowing that all owners do not have the same goals for their dogs and accepting people do not learn the same way as one another is key. People don’t get dogs for the same reason, one person may have a dog strictly for a companion, another may have a dog for protection. Regardless, professional dog trainers need to be flexible and open-minded when training owners to train their dogs.