As a modern dog trainer, you have invested a lot of time and energy into becoming the best, most educated trainer you can be. Throughout this journey, many basic ideas were hammered into your head time and again, until they just became basic knowledge. Unfortunately, sometimes these basic things are taken for granted by dog trainers and our clients are left hanging without this information. Here are several things that dog trainers take as common knowledge but clients might not realize.
Click And THEN Treat
When teaching clients that are new to clicker training the basic mechanics, a lot of time is often spent repeating the mantra, “click and THEN treat.” It seems a very natural behavior to click and offer the treat simultaneously. As a modern dog trainer, you will gently remind your clients of the proper sequence of this until it becomes second nature to them, too.
“Have A Ton Of Treats”
When a dog trainer says, “have a ton of treats handy,” they are envisioning a gallon-size ziploc bag of small, soft, stinky treats. When new clients hear this, however, their vision is slightly different. What you often walk into is a client proudly bearing one small ziploc bag of crunchy cookies (see below!). Make sure when you plan your first meeting with a client that you specify what you mean by, “have a ton of treats.” And then take extras of your own. *wink*
High Value Treats =/= Milkbones
Every modern dog trainer has been there – they meet with a client after telling them what kind/amount of treats to have, and the client has big hard biscuit-style treats. As a pre-emptive strike, always specify, “small, soft, stinky, and lots of them!”
You Have To Work Outside Your Formal Training Sessions
Working on skills learned in formal training with their dog trainer must occur even when the trainer is not present. Five to ten minutes, once or twice a day is all that is needed, but even that can be difficult for some clients. Emphasize that short sessions are okay, and even preferable!
“He Was Hungry”
As a modern dog trainer who understands the power that food can have as a reinforcer, you naturally know that a dog that is slightly hungry will work even harder. However, your clients are unwitting victims of the “hungry dog” eyes and prone to feed their dog a large meal right before training. Remind your clients that they should skip the meal right before training, or at least reduce it in size.
“His Tail Was Wagging, So He Was Happy”
This phrase can make even the most hardened dog trainer cringe. It is vitally important that you help your clients learn basic dog body language, for their safety and their dog’s safety.
Sometimes He DOESN’T “Just Want To Say Hi”
Yet another phrase that can bring a dog trainer crashing to their knees in despair. This can result from a couple different options. First, your client’s dog is truly super friendly and they don’t realize how horrifying it can be to other dog owners to have a loose dog come rushing up to them and their dog. Or second, their dog wants to do much more nefarious things than just say hi, but your client doesn’t understand body language. Explain the importance of keeping dogs on leash when not safely contained, and not permitting their dogs to get in the face of every other dog in the neighborhood.
Training Is Not A Luxury
As a modern dog trainer, you realize the importance that training provides in a dog’s life in the form of mental stimulation, ability to adapt to different situations, and just providing the dog guidelines for living in a human world. Make sure your clients realize that budgeting for dog training is just as important as budgeting for basic veterinary care.
What other concepts do you find yourself taking for granted while your clients are left hanging?
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