When I first started The Problem Pooch in 2006 I believed that I needed someone else to validate my self-worth as a trainer.
I maintained my membership in the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), I joined and became a certified member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), I subscribed to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and there may be some others that I am forgetting.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the people (and dogs) I was helping didn’t care about any of those organizations. I chose instead to abide by my own code of conduct, by-laws, and adhered to my own mission statement.
I exercised my value system of integrity, compassion, and patience; a value system that was taught to me by the most important governing body: my parents.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That was, and still is, my modus operandi.
Word-of-mouth is my work credentialing badge. A satisfied client refers me to someone else who could use my help. I have a great deal of pride in my work of Teaching People & Helping Dogs. I balance it with a lot of humility when a family invites me into their home.
For every single appointment I have, being a decent human being is more significant than my experience in understanding and modifying a dog’s behavior. For example, I am not a dog trainer when I allow a toddler to crawl on me and hug me because she misses the affection of her father, who has been out to sea for 5 months. I am not a dog trainer when I help a grandson overcome a long-standing fear of dogs, thereby producing tears of joy in his grandmother.
I didn’t learn those skills by attending a canine school, or by reading an article in a quarterly magazine of the APDT, or attending a two-day seminar.
I don’t teach group classes. I don’t teach agility or fly-ball or tricks and games. I don’t hold the title of Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. I am not “certified” (by the way, there are no federal or state regulations that require licensure.) I don’t train dogs how to be a good: bird-hunter, seeing-eye dog, bomb-sniffer, sheep-herder, etc. Those are not my specialties.
There are dog training options available that operate with a different business model and are less expensive than my fee. However, I believe I provide more-than-fair value for my service as a dog trainer and a giver of peace-of-mind. Earning a family’s trust is more important to me than the bottom line on an income statement.
I may not be the best option for someone who is seeking a dog trainer. And I’m okay with that. I understand the “different strokes for different folks” mentality. For those who have placed their trust in me, I am honored that you chose to work with me. For those who have referred me to others, I am grateful. For those who thought about or are thinking of working with me, thank you for your consideration.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.