Trainers are being forced into “slots.” Judgments are made, and then a trainer is slotted, defined and labeled. The labels are numerous but vary between Force Free, Balanced, Corrective and the like. I personally have been struggling with what slot I would belong in. What kind of trainer am I? Which category does my 20+ years of working and training in the field place me into?
Somehow the label or slot or category or method or whatever you call it has become the focus piece, and I believe this is doing a disservice to trainers and to the field of dog training. Our goal must be for a well-trained, happy dog in a reasonable amount of time for our client. While I can gladly wait two years for the perfect ‘sit,’ I cannot expect my clients to do the same. I get a finite amount of time to train their dog, and I had better do a good job or that dog might be out of a home. Does it really matter what my category is?
Here’s the thing: We as trainers adapt over time, and experience inevitably changes our slot – some dogs force us to change, or we learn more, or methods evolve. Experienced trainers have probably belonged in two or three categories in their time, switching with education and then switching again when dogs have demanded it.
So what kind of trainer am I? The other day my friend defined it for me: He said I'm a dog trainer. He could not be more right. I use my decades of experience to train each and every dog, aiming to be as kind as possible yet as firm as necessary. No slot needed.
I think that about sums it up. I'm a dog trainer, and I train the dog I'm training.
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