I Want To Be A Dog Trainer – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]
I receive calls, from time to time, from people wanting to become a dog trainer. I am always happy to receive these calls and to give people advice on how to do it.
What does it take?
The first thing I ask people who call me about becoming a dog trainer is: Do you own a dog? The surprising answer is usually: No. Either they grew up with a dog, have owned dogs in the past, or they have never owned a dog before, but they don’t currently have a dog.
This has to be the starting point for every aspiring dog trainer. Get a dog, a really good dog, and train the living daylights out of it. Take the dog as far as you can. This will set you on the journey to learn what it takes to be a dog trainer. You will go places, spend massive amounts of money, and do things that will eventually turn you into the trainer you want to be. So, start things out as a hobby and then turn it later into a career. But, do it with your own dog. Don’t experiment on other people’s dogs without knowing what you are doing.
I am surprised how many dog trainers won’t own a dog of their own. Or, they own a dog that was trained and raised by someone else and parade around as if they made the dog into something. I know of one trainer that has been training dogs for over 10 years, AND HE HAS NEVER OWNED OR TRAINED A DOG OF HIS OWN! He lacks a great deal of compassion for dogs and his customers. He will do things to other people’s dogs, and take liberties with them, that he shouldn’t do. There is a big hole in his understanding of dogs and dog owners, and it is reflected in his training. Others don’t really know how to train a dog from scratch. They buy a dog for many thousands of dollars, that is already titled, and they walk around like the dog they now own was a product of their training. I have seen this many times. I have also seen trainers that have become burned out with the training, and now it is just a business. In all of these instances, you don’t want to train with these people as mentors, and you don’t want to get in the business if you just do it for the business. You will wreck a lot of dogs along the way if you don’t love dogs enough to own and train a dog for performance, and for your own pleasure.
Pick the right dog
In order to be a good dog trainer, you need to know a wide range of things about behavior and training. My recommendation is that you carefully think about the type of trainer you want to be. Start from the end point, and work your way backwards. If you want to be a hunting dog trainer, then start with a top quality hunting dog breed. If you want to work police dogs, then get hired as a police officer, and get one of the man working breeds (so you learn about aggression). Get a dog that is so good, that if you can’t make it to the top levels, it is your fault, not the fault of the dog’s breeding/ genetics. You will learn through your personal successes and failures.
Within the first year that I decided that I wanted to be a professional dog trainer, I read over 100,000 pages of materials. I read another 100,000 pages the next year, and so on, year after year. I also purchased training videos and audio tapes. I still study behavior every week. Think about that. I started this full time in 1997, and I still am studying behavior. You can’t hope to compete with me in ability, or in business, if you don’t know a lot. And I wouldn’t hire you to talk to even my most basic customers without you demonstrating the high level of character, knowledge and drive I expect from myself every hour of every working day.
A good place to start is the public library. Read every book they have on dogs: breeding, history, genetics, first aid, breeds, behavior, training, funny stories, grooming¦ everything.
Next, start reading books on psychology. Basic college textbooks are a good starting point. Get an overview of psychology and the different perspectives on learning and behavior. Then, dig into the more scientific stuff. Start by reading anything you can find by Darwin, Lorenz, Pavlov, and Skinner.
From there, start comparing the textbook theories to real world studies about canine (jackals, wolves, coyotes, domestic dogs, African wild dogs, foxes, etc.) behavior. It is also good to read books on the behavior of other species, such as birds, cats, fish, herding animals, etc. You need a good understanding of animal behavior.
Go Watch Dogs Perform
It is also good to watch and participate in dog events. You coul start with dog shows, obedience trials, and working dog events. It is also good to join dog clubs, take seminars, hire professionals to work with you and your dog, and watch TV shows and movies that feature dogs. You need to see dogs in action in a number of settings.
Find a Mentor
At a certain point, you will need to work with a mentor. You need to find yourself people that know how to apply all of this to training dogs. Find yourself someone that is very knowledgeable. Befriend them and pay them for what they know. I did this, and it changed everything I knew, or thought I knew!
If you don’t know of someone to ask to be your mentor, I would be happy to work with dedicated people that are interested in hiring me to show them how to become very good dog trainers/ behaviorists. For the right person, I will refer you to others that you should get to know and work with, help you find a dog, show you how to train dogs, assign you reading materials, and provide other advice that will turn you into a professional dog trainer and behaviorist. I won’t do this for everyone that asks or offers to pay. I won’t do this for people that are just looking for another job. You have to want this as a career. I will only do this on a case-by-case basis. And instead, I might even hire you, but you are going to have to be someone very special.
Make it a hobby first
It takes many years, and a lot of dedication, energy and passion to become good at anything… including dog training. You have to have a passion for what you are doing. You shouldn’t do it for the money, because at first, you won’t make much. In fact, you will probably lose money for the first few years. You have to do it because you love dogs and people, not just because you want a job.
I love what I do, but I have paid my dues. I also would do what I do with my dogs even if I wasn’t paid a dime for it. I just love working with dogs
How To Become A Dog Whisperer
First off, this is not a scientific term. It instead refers to someone who somehow has the intuition to read dog behavior in an almost spiritual way. I don’t believe in this concept. However, I have met people who have excellent dog “instincts”, for lack of a better term. The longer you are around animals, the more you’ll be able to read them. When I started out with my first dog, I didn’t know a thing. Really. Over the years, I developed higher and higher levels of intuition regarding dog behavior. I can often tell, just by intuition, when a dog is about to bite, or wants to bite, for example. I can sense it coming. That’s just not something you can get out of a book or a typical dog training class. And you’ll need to develop those types of instincts before you will be ready to be a good dog trainer. I get annoyed by novice dog trainers, or other non-experts, who go out there and start preaching certain dog training methods as if they are “The Truth”. People will ask me: “What method do you use”? I don’t have a method. Method trainers are still beginners. They are stuck using one approach to solve a problem. I encountered this recently. A customer had done a number of classes with a local company with her Boxer / Doberman / hound mix. She had then joined a local agility club…. and was kicked out after her dog started trying to attack the other dogs. So, she hired me. I did an evaluation of her skills and temperament, and her dog’s skills and temperament. I then started filling in the missing pieces in her training. From there, I put her into my problem dog group class so she could develop her handling skills, and to get her dog to work with her. She recently rejoined her agility club, and her instructor, after watching how well her dog was, grilled her asking what method I had used to fix her dog. She couldn’t explain what I had done, in particular, to fix the problem. That’s because I used my intuition to figure out what was going on, and then implemented advice, techniques and exercises to address her particular problems with her dog. There was no method. My method is no method, kind of like Bruce Lee developed the concept of a martial art without a method. You have to get beyond theories and methods, and develop your intuition, in order to become a so-called “dog whisperer.” And you need to figure it is going to take a minimum of 10 to 15 years of regularly working with dogs to hone your intuition. It’s not magic, it’s a result of a lot of hard work and observation, and not everyone has the ability to get to this level. I now learn more about dogs through this intuition than I do from any other source. It is now my teacher, and there is no end to how much more there is to learn. No one knows everything about dog behavior, no matter how long they have been training. And the number of years you have been training doesn’t indicate that you have this intuition. It is more than a skill, it is an aptitude combined with a lot of skills.
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Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.
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