As a professional who takes pride in your work, it can be difficult to accept that sometimes you are in over your head. Having a network of other trusted trainers you can either consult with or make a referral to makes you a stronger trainer. There are several reasons you may decide to refer a case on to another trainer.
Not Your Field Of Expertise
What is most of your education/background in? If you do mostly pet obedience, there is no shame in making a referral to another trainer if you have a potential client who is interested in IPO/Protection Sports.
Cases Beyond Your Experience Level
Sometimes cases come along that are just beyond your experience level. If you are a new trainer, it makes sense to make a referral onward if a client has a dog with aggression issues. If you have no experience in training service dogs, this would be a proper time to make a referral. Perhaps when making that referral, ask if you can shadow the other trainer while they work on the case so you can learn more and gain some personal experience. Most modern dog trainers are eager to share their expertise with those newer trainers who are sincerely interested in learning more.
Bias Against Breed Or Owner
This can be a tough one to admit to yourself. Nobody likes to admit that they might have a bias against a person or breed of dog. However, as human beings, it happens. So if a client comes along with a breed of dog that you just inherently have a dislike or distrust of, make a referral to another trainer. The same goes if you just feel you cannot work with the client for some reason.
Don’t Have Time
Some cases require a lot more training hours than others. If you are a part-time trainer and a potential client comes along with a dog that is going to take extensive work, and you just know you will not have the proper time to dedicate to the case, make a referral.
Don’t Have Facility
If you are a trainer that works without a facility, either going to people’s homes or working in public places, there are times you will need to refer cases to those trainers who do have facilities of their own. If a client comes to you with an extremely reactive dog, a trainer with a facility of their own will be better suited to properly set up the environment for the dog to succeed and make progress.
Knowing when to refer clients to other trainers benefits everybody involved. The dogs and clients will get proper, safe instruction. You will create stronger bonds with other local trainers, who might then reciprocate the referral. And the clients will know that you are an honest person who can be trusted, making them more likely to return to you and refer friends/family to you.