Last Wednesday we kicked off our ten-week series on the “Traits of a Professional
Dog Trainer”, with an article entitled, How Open-Mindedness and Flexibility Improves Your Dog Training SkillIf you missed it, please click this link to read it: https://wordpress.com/view/iscdtfordogtrainersblog.school.blog

In addition to educating yourself in the craft of dog training and working with numerous dogs to increase your skill, there are ten traits that will make you stand above other dog trainers.  This article covers the second trait:

Patience

Dog training is not only about the dog and it goes far beyond teaching commands.  Teaching the dog is the easy part. Our job is more about the ones who pay for our services — People. 

In this world of Amazon and Grub Hub delivery, it is easy to fall into the belief that everything happens with the click of a button and the blink of an eye. When it comes to shopping and food delivery, that is often true. These companies make our lives incredibly easy with their door-to-door service.   

When it comes to learning and mastering a new skill, patience and time are the key to success.  Here are areas patience plays a vital role in your career as a dog trainer.

New Trainers. It is important that new dog trainers have patience with themselves.  It takes time to learn a new craft and it takes even longer to master your skill. The ability to train your own dog isn’t enough. Your dog will improve your skill, however, it takes at least one hundred dogs to drastically improve your dog-handling practices.  You must work with different breeds of dogs, temperaments and levels of knowledge. Each dog you work with, provides different scenarios for you to learn.  

Don’t compare yourself to a trainer who has worked in the field for years.  Doing so will only frustrate and prevent you from moving forward. Stop believing you will never reach the level of success as the trainer on television or the one with the hundred Youtube videos.  Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, spend your free time working as a dog trainer’s apprentice. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities with rescues and dog shelters. You can also gain skills by working with your family and friends’ dogs.   Focus on the dogs you work with and enjoy your path to a new career.

Clients. Clients often require several reminders when it comes to proper leash handling and issuing commands.   They put off implementing a tool, such as having the dog drag a leash or practicing with the dog on a daily basis.  Often times, as the dog behavior improves, the humans become complacent in their training, which leads to old problems resurfacing.

In order to successfully train a dog, we need to train the owners too.  It is important to remember that the owners are also learning a new skill set.  They need to adjust their body language and learn to keep their emotions in check. They learn a new vocabulary, hand signals and leash handling skills.  Often times, they must change bad habits they’ve practiced for years, because these habits likely contributed to their dog issues. Sometimes trainers forget what it feels like to train a dog for the first time. This leads to frustration with their human clients.

We certainly cannot place blame on them.  We are hired to help them fix the problems, not point fingers.  Dog trainers need to help their human clients overcome obstacles by providing gentle reminders and willingly revisiting  old lessons. We need to help them move forward in their training by guiding them through a difficult lessons rather than grabbing the leash and doing the work for them.  

We teach humans to train their own dogs. In doing so, we provide them with an entirely new skill set.  Practice, time and repetition is how we help them succeed. None of us are born dog trainers. Practice patience with your human clients while they learn. 

Dogs. In our last blog we discussed how dogs learn differently. In this post, we are going to discuss other ways patience plays a role in dog training.  

Recently we had a client with a five-month old dog.  We taught the dog sit-implied stay during the first lesson. At home, the owner could cross the entire room and back without the dog moving.  Three days after the lesson, he decided to show off the new skill during a party in a friend’s backyard. Naturally the dog failed and the owner expressed frustration at our second lesson.  

The client didn’t know that dogs simply cannot generalize when it comes to commands and behavior.  We explained to him that there are four stages of learning for dogs.   He learned that dog training does not happen overnight and agreed to follow our training module. A couple of weeks later, his dog achieve their goal of a sit-implied stay in different environments.

No one learns to perfect a command overnight.  Pushing too fast or too hard leads to frustration and failure.  Dogs are no different. We need to help our clients understand that dogs’ brains are wired differently than ours.  Repetition, consistency and slowly adding distraction will help them achieve their goals.

Patience is an important skill for life and when training dogs. Remember to include patience in your dog training program.  Also keep it in mind when it comes to your own education and growth.

Until next time…keep up the great work in discovering your passion,

Katie and Jessica

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

Written by: Katie McKnight

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