Interviewing a Dog Trainer
Several weeks ago, a delightful new client reached out about a private dog training lesson for his puppy. Immediately, this client had specific questions during our phone conversation. He asked about my dog training methodology and prior experience, and questioned how I would handle a specific situation. After the first question, I realized this potential client was interviewing me! Guess what? I was flattered and extremely proud of this dog owner.
After our interview session, I thanked the client for the thorough interview and said, “I wish all clients would interview potential dog trainers.” Honestly, this gentleman was shocked by my comment. He previously phoned 12 other dog trainers, and all either hung up on him or growled, “I have plenty of experience, and I’m insulted by your questions.” I was shocked and saddened.
Always Interview Dog Trainers
When selecting a new dog trainer, always thoroughly interview him or her. Speaking as a professional dog trainer, we expect to be interviewed by potential clients.
If you would like to enroll in a basic group course, ask if you can attend a session and observe. When observing, ensure the dog trainer uses and recommends positive reinforcement dog training methods. Owners should reward dogs freely for desired behavior. Dogs and puppies should wear flat buckle collars, head collars or body harnesses. If a dog trainer refuses your request to observe one class session, find another dog trainer.
Phone the potential dog trainer and ask open-ended questions. Ask what type of dog training methods the dog trainer uses and recommends. If your dog has a specific behavioral issue, such as dog aggression, ask if the dog trainer has experience with this type of aggression. When he or she replies, “Yes,” ask the person to elaborate.
Ask if this person has national dog certifications and, if so, from which organization. Make sure to search for this organization online and verify this dog trainer is indeed certified with this organization. Remember, this person will likely enter your home for a private lesson, so make sure you completely trust him or her.
If a Dog Trainer Refuses to Be Interviewed, Find Someone Else
It’s best to interview dog trainers by phone. If a dog trainer is busy, ask if you can schedule a 10-minute interview at his or her convenience. Of course, if a dog trainer refuses to answer your questions politely or hangs up on you, find another dog trainer.
And yes, I now have a lovely new client with a darling puppy who sends referrals my way!