When an owner and a dog walk through the door of a dog training room, they are both there to be trained, even if they don’t realise it. After all, the dog trainer doesn’t train the dog. The dog trainer trains the owner to be able to train the dog.
Dog training classes only last for usually an hour per week for a few weeks, but that should not be the only training that a dog receives. It is something that you and your dog should continue to do for the rest of your pet’s life.
As we explained in our recent blog about why you should get your dog trained, dog training is not about dominating your dog, but is about communicating with your dog and having a relationship with your dog. Only you can do that; the trainer can show you what to do, but they can’t do it for you.
Unfortunately, many dog owners encounter quite a bit of nastiness in the dog training industry, and either find that the trainers are great with animals but don’t have very good ‘people skills’, or are fine with people but believe that dogs need to be dominated. If a dog owner ends up feeling belittled and talked down to by the trainer, they will not learn what to do effectively, and will not be able to train their dog effectively.
We therefore believe that dog trainers shouldn’t be judgemental of dog owners or tell them off. After all dog owners are the customers and they are not going to stick around for long to be spoken to like that. They will most likely give up and not bother to continue to train their dog, which is disastrous for both the owner and the dog.
It isn’t enough though to just avoid nastiness. Dog trainers need to be open, friendly, kind, caring, and most of all relate to the dog owner. For many dog owners, attending their first dog training class can be quite a daunting and nerve wracking experience. They might be shy of other people. Or more likely they probably fear that something will go wrong, such as their dog getting hurt, or their dog attacking someone else or someone else’s dog. So, if owners walk into a dog training class looking worried, it is important to talk to them about why, and to put them at their ease by greeting each one when they arrive for classes, talking with all of the owners rather than just the particularly chatty one, and making them all feel included, drawing them out if necessary, rather than treating them like they are on a conveyor belt.
Here at WitsEnd, our kettle is always hot, and many of the dog owners who bring their dogs here end up being our friends. We believe that is how it should be!