Do professional trainers need to be able to train a dog?

A long time ago a very experienced and accomplished dog trainer said to me, the new one on the block then: If you are serious about being a professional dog trainer you need to be able to train your dog to someone else’s standard and proof that in a competitive environment.

I thought, no way, how completely unnecessary.

These days I tend to agree. There are different skills that make a good dog trainer, first and foremost, good interpersonal skills with people, then qualification, experience, accreditation, and the ability to train a dog.

One would think that the last one is a ‘no brainer’.

You can do that even if you have a dog with ‘issues’ as a lot of dog trainers do, that is why a lot of us became trainers in the first place. These days there are dog sports that do not require a dog to be social or interact with other dogs or people. Nose work is one such sport or Rally O is suitable for most dogs. Then there is Agility, Dancing with dogs, Tracking, Obedience, dock dog and much more.

I also think dog trainers should take lessons with other trainers to not forget what it means to be taught and not always being the one ‘who knows it all’. I take regularly lessons with other trainers at least twice a week. Mostly in Agility but also in Rally O and sometimes trick training.

I also think that actively doing a sport with your dog improves the relationship, is fun and helps us become better trainers.

And for putting it to the test: Last year we gained our Jumping Excellence, Novice Agility, Novice Strategic Pairs and Novice Gamblers title. We also qualified in the two Rally O trials we competed.

This year I hope to get our Jumping Masters, Novice Rally O and hopefully our Agility Excellence title.