My favorite phone calls are from people who ask me how I train dogs, what my methods are, and what equipment I use. I prefer potential clients to interview me before they sign up for dog training classes or in-home lessons. You care who teaches your child, right? Why should you care any less who’s training your dog?
A woman in Georgia is upset because the trainer she found on Craigslist (red flag #1) lost her dog. Lost it! The woman who owned the dog was desperate (red flad #2) to find a trainer to help her aggressive pit bull so she turned to the online classified ad website. She didn’t interview the trainer, didn’t even go inside the facility (red flags #3 – #100!), and just left her dog — her dog! — with this stranger.
I’m not sure where to start with the number of things that went wrong here.
First, there’s a low probability that a reputable dog trainer will use Craigslist to find clients. Most reputable dog trainers use Chambers of Commerce, veterinary referrals, client referrals, and word of mouth to earn new clients, not an online classified ad website.
Second, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. YOU can call yourself a dog trainer and charge people to “train” their dog. It doesn’t matter how you train the dog, it doesn’t matter if you ever really do train the dog. There aren’t any standards in the profession of dog training. NONE. You wanna be a dog trainer? Done! Hang your shingle and start taking money. I wish I was exaggerating or being facetious, but I’m stone-cold serious.
Third, dropping a dog off at someone’s house without checking out the (1) trainer’s credentials, experience, professional organization affiliations, education, and training methods or (2) looking at the inside of the facility, the security, training procedures, etc. is just asking for trouble.
If you sent your child to summer camp, hired a babysitter, or enrolled them in pre-school, I bet you checked out the facility, the employees, and their references. You care about your kids, and you want to be sure the people you’re entrusting your child to are qualified.
Why wouldn’t people also be just as cautious about the education and treatment of their dog? Please research and interview your dog’s trainer — be sure they deserve the honor of working with you and your dog.
Well, it’s like that with ANY profession. There are no exceptions. It’s like that with trainers, vets, mechanics, hair-dressers … they have not been created equal. Not every one of them “graduated at the top of their class.”
For me, a good website is key. I want to know what a trainer emphasizes. Seeing that someone is certified by a reputable program like KPCT is also helpful. But some things you won’t learn from websites or interviews.
My trainer, Russ Hollier, is wonderful. But he rose in my estimation the other day when he said something about how he thought he broke Honey’s trust when he withheld a treat she was expecting and that he’d have to work to regain it.
I love the way he thinks about these things.
I’m sorry your client made a mistake she’ll never make again. I hope you can work with her so she has a whole new understanding on what it means to work with a great, relationship-based trainer.
Laurie Luck says
Agreed! Except that dog trainers are dealing with a living, breathing creature. I don’t think my plumber or mechanic is! 🙂 But I get your point: check out who’s working on your house, hair, or car. Especially your dog!
Laurie Luck says
Pamela, this lady was in Georgia — I’m clear up in MD, but I’m sure similar incidents have happened all over the United States. Craigslist is no place to find a trainer for a dog, that’s for sure. This woman wasn’t my client, and I’m very sorry for her loss. Due diligence will go a long way in weeding out the wheat from the chaff. I wish everyone would investigate their dogs’ trainer.