1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?
We are fortunate to live in an area where many trainers visit frequently. When I first started in this 'voyage' I made a common mistake and scheduled with every trainer that came through the area. My brain was overwhelmed with an agglomeration of conflicting training methods. My obvious lack of knowledge left me unable to differentiate which method would better serve me or my dogs. The over kill of information left me dazed and confused.
It all came to a head when I walked out on a clinic, drove home in tears and vowed to buy back yard agility equipment.
Later I attended a clinic with Patrick Shannahan and through him I met Dianne Deal who clicked for me...that was almost three years ago.
When looking for a new trainer, pick one, work with them for a while - give it a few sessions. Then ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you feel comfortable or intimidated?
- Are you able to learn from them or do they leave you confused?
- How does your dog work when with them? Does your dog shut down?
- Do you like the way they treat your dog and livestock?
- Do you feel listened to? Are your concerns addressed?
- Do they help you focus on goals and give you homework?
- Are you moving forward?
2. The dog world is small and... uh... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?
I will consider the input. Take what I want and then dismiss the rest. It is much easier said than done, but everyone has an opinion. I am comfortable with the direction we are heading in right now, not much is going to sway me from that path other than my own experiences.
3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)
Every person needs to work in their own comfort zone. To each their own. I do not judge or dismiss someone simply because their personal choices are out of alignment with my personal value system.
Regarding the example of a possible trainer being a party animal: I know if I drinking heavily I am not able to function well the next day. If I am paying money at a clinic for someone's advice and then see them out drinking themselves blotto the night before, the next day they are hungover at the clinic, or they are actively drinking while teaching the clinic....I am going to have a wee bit of an issue with that.
Bottom line, it is your money, you have the right to chose whomever you are comfortable with. It is a personal decision, but if you do use information about a trainer's personal life in the decision making process consider it may be based on nasty gossip. Go to the source and ask if you have any questions.
4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?
I have a break-through moment almost daily, retaining them and building on them is the challenge. I don't think a particular break-though 'moment' is going to make my connection to my dog any stronger. It might aid in understanding - but won't change our connection.
5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help?
I started with too many trainers. Narrowed it down to one (Dianne Deal) and now that I am more grounded and understand things better I am able to take a lesson with Scott Glen when he is in town. Instead of feeling confused, I am able to find the common ground and apply what will work best for me and my dog...then build on it. The great thing is Dianne encourages me to work with him too.