Finding help can be harder than you think…

So perhaps you are looking for a dog trainer or someone who can help you with your dog’s behaviour problems.

Well there are more and more people jumping into this profession these days than ever, and that’s a good thing, overall.

The problem with more options, are that you now must make a very important decision.

Who do you trust with your dog’s education and mental health?

You may not have thought of it this way before, but this is what you’re doing when you choose a trainer or behaviourist.

Now this is where I want to try and give you some advice to think on and some traps to be aware of.

When we want to offer services to people, let’s call it “advertising” or “promotion”, my plan has to be to help people who come to me achieve the goals they set out to. Simple.

If I am coaching a dog sport competitor, I work hard and am invested in helping them achieve the best they can be.

When they hit those heights in their chosen sport, they often will thank me and let others know I helped them, and this prompts more people to uptake my services.

If I am working with a dog with a behaviour problem, I consider all the variables and work hard to teach and educate both the dog and owner what is going on and what we need to be aiming at, short, mid, and long term.

There are so many “wins” to be enjoyed along the way, such as:

  • The owner feeling like they have hope again
  • The owner feeling like they have more control over their dog’s behaviour, rather than them falling victim to their dog’s behaviour.
  • Watching their dog learn, succeed, and master some of the foundation skills.
  • The first time their dog manages to ignore that “trigger” he or she never has before.
  • The thought of this problem behaviour actually coming to an end.
  • The feeling of the restrictions living with this dog has, lifting from your life.
  • The fear that your dog will hurt someone or another animal dissipating.
  • Their dog being able to dop things they just could not do before.

And there are so many other little boxes to tick, owners just feel like their hell is coming to an end.

These people and their dogs get out in public, they go to vets, other people see their dogs and the PEOPLE getting better and THIS is “promotion and advertising”.

This has always worked for me, but I have seen, quite often lately a very different way.

It may come in a Facebook article, blog or website and it may look like a “helpful” set of hints on how to choose a trainer.

But in reality, they seem to be simply highlighting faults with their competition.

As a professional, I learned a long time ago to promote my own services and or products rather than criticise, bash, discredit and slander the others.

I mean, how does highlighting what I don’t like about someone else, make me look any better?

Maybe it does, I just try to rise above that way of promotion.

When I have come across this other form, the information I see in many of these posts often advises to: –

  • Steer away from people who use (training tool they don’t like here)
  • Avoid trainers that use the words “respect, leader, energy, natural”
  • Avoid trainers who are balanced and do not use treats only.

What seems to be missing from their advertising is:  

  • Any indication that your dog will improve his or her behaviour.
  • That there will be any results achieved
  • Any (even rough) timelines to measure progress
  • Any evidence that they have EVER achieved success with a case like yours

Let me just for a moment highlight something the people writing this content may not have thought about.

They write a post that criticizes the use of a training aid like a prong collar, e collar, slip leash or similar.

They tell people how bad they are and how cruel owners are for using these tools.

Know that somebody (often many somebodies), are sitting there alone, reading this and now feeling terrible, because they tried EVERYTHING to help their dog, including all of the things you would suggest (and more) and NONE of it worked ONE BIT.

They found someone that actually HELPED them, and equipped them with knowledge, skills and a plan and with a training aid that actually has AIDED TRAINING.

They still use loads of Positive Reinforcement and now, for the first time in years, their dog is happily being walked in public, around other dogs, people, children, and the other things that previously would have triggered their dog.

Their dog is enjoying freedom in life he or she has not had for years.

Their life (both dog and owner) has taken a turn for the better, and here you come along kicking them as hard as you can.

All just to promote yourself… well done.

One thing you may not have known about choosing a trainer or behaviourist to work with you is that you and that person must “fit”.

There are people out there with an abundance of knowledge, but their delivery method may be something that doesn’t really sit well with you.

Your personality and your trainer’s personality must fit.

If it doesn’t, it is not your fault nor is it the trainers, but it will be in both your interests to know that you must fit and try your best to fit.

When I am working with people, especially those who I may work with over a longer amount of time, there are times when the client needs to be open and vulnerable about their concerns, their fears and their expectations and possible weaknesses in terms of training, so I can help them the best I can.

You must be comfortable with your trainer to have that relationship, so this is more of a priority than what tools they use or don’t use in my opinion.

Now this doesn’t happen with every service that trainers provide, it is not as common in things like group classes, seminars etc, but in private consults like I do, it can be.

At the end of the day, actual progress, results, improvements and even dare I say it, success has gone by the wayside in favour of marketing that goes a little like “avoid our competitors because…”

Having a dog that you need help with can be a very stressful, anxious and even depressing and debilitating situation to live in.

Many people come to me, and I would describe them to be in crisis.

They are broken and feel hopeless but are unable to avoid the stress their life with their dog, that they love, is causing.

Believe it when I say, the choice of tool or food I use on the day has little to do with the outcome in the end, but it is a necessary part of the process.

Do your research and choose a professional based on the results you’re looking for, with the breed you have.

Professionals with ethics will be able to help you and or refer you to someone that can help if they cannot.


About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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  1. Very well put trainers need to be a lot more open minded and look at s what’s best for client Human and dog

  2. Steve – I have long been an advocate of yours and use / have used all training aides appropriate for the dog I am currently training but i find this advertisement a little confusing. For example, would you explain the comment “Avoid trainers who are balanced and do not use treats only”. My understanding is that ‘balanced trainers’ train in all four quadrants, using both positive and negative reinforcement.
    Maybe just the way I am reading it??

    • Hey Bobbee, yes I was giving an example of what I have seen OTHERS write. See below. 🙂

      “When I have come across this other form, the information I see in many of these posts often advises to: –”

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