Training dogs for a living is one of the greatest jobs in the world, and offers more emotional fulfillment, challenges, and excitement than most jobs could ever dream. I believe that to my core. For someone to be lucky enough to have the skill, been taught the knowledge, and have the feel for training dogs (and that feel is something that you are born with) they need to count their lucky stars because it is a great gig. If you are a dog trainer, or thinking about getting into this industry, here are some things I would think about and reflect on below.
This job can get hard, and it is not for everyone. The first time a dog bites you, attempts to bites you, or bites someone in front of you, it’s a shock to the system. I think it’s important for everyone to see what a dog is capable of, and the power that these animals have. It will give you a great respect for how powerful they truly are. That being said, not everyone has to work with dog’s that are struggling with deep behavioral issues, and no where near everyone should. It’s an art, that takes a very long time to develop and nurture. In addition, all dogs do have the potential to bite, don’t ever forget that.
The potential to get bit, and get seriously hurt is not the hardest part of this job, it’s not even close. For me, the hardest part is the emotional toll dog training can take on you. If you really care about your job, and about helping people and dogs, you pour your entire being into every single dog you see, every single day of the week. The amount of passion, and the amount of compassion that you need to have and put into your work can become at times overwhelming. This gets amplified because people love their dogs so much. Think about, that during the last recession the pet industry was one of the only industries that continued to grow, not fall. Our dogs, cats, and other pets are so much more than just a pet, they are a huge portion of our family. In some cases, they are the only family that people may have. Owners have such an emotional attachment to our pets, that sometimes what may be necessary, is clouded by what we feel.
Sometimes being a dog trainer, also means being a great salesperson. You really have to sell and get the point across why what you are doing is necessary, and the importance it has to helping their dog’s life. I know some trainers who will simply tell it, and if owners don’t want to do it that’s on them. I get it, I understand it, especially because I’ve been in this game for a decade, but here is the thing. If you do a great job at selling what you know will help the owners dog, the dog’s life will improve! That is what keeps me going, and what is so damn important about this job, and why I try to be a wordsmith. Remember, the goal of our job is to improve the quality of life for the dog, improve the relationship of the dog and their human, and ease the stress for the human imposed by their dog. Simply telling a human to do this, do that, don’t do this, isn’t enough. They need to understand why, how, and what this will do, and the benefits of the work you want them to follow through with.
There are such limited numbers of great dog trainers, and such large numbers for dogs that need trained, that it causes a very big demand issue. The last two years have exasperated this as well. I want to help everyone in the entire world, but there is only 24 hours in a day, and you aren’t Superman. While you will help thousands of people in your life, you are going to run into a few people in your life that demand help immediately. Remember, if no one takes care of you, you won’t be able to take care of others. Make sure you give yourself necessary breaks and time for you. Whether it’s hiking, lifting, or painting, find outlets for you to decompress.
To add more into the mix, as a dog trainer you are going to find out that every other dog trainer on the planet hates you, and thinks you are a moron. Okay, that might be slightly exaggerated, but it’s a tough world. You are going to need a group of people to bounce ideas off of, discuss difficult cases, and add in new insights to your training program. I am blessed by being surrounded by a tremendous team, and without them I would fail. A quick shout out to my staff, Anthony, Michelle, Rachel, Erin, Travis, Donna, Bree, Josh, Jake, Cassidy, Emma, R2, and Joyce for being a part of the best training team on the planet. Also, Jenilee, Jenny, Andy, and Megan for everything that you all do too. I continue to appreciate and respect how amazing you all are at the work you do. I would also urge you to connect with dog trainers who may not do everything the same as you. It will give you inspiration and creativity, as well as new tools in your toolbox.
Another large issue that you also run into when training dogs is, believe it or not, owners don’t let you steal their dog when you think they are cute. It’s extremely rude.
Dog trainers, and future dog trainers, continue to help people help dogs. Continue to educate and be educated. Continue to love what you do.
Owner - Say It Once Dog Training
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