Forty dogs and counting

Last week I had three new clients which meant I reached a total of forty dogs that I’ve worked with since starting my own business last year. It got me thinking about how varied they are and how they all teach me something new.

I started with dog walking while I was studying to be a dog trainer. I wanted to learn as much as possible so I specifically took on clients’ dogs that mostly couldn’t be walked as part of a larger pack walk. Or cope in doggy day care. It’s much more lucrative to walk more than one or two dogs at a time, but I wasn’t going to learn much by doing that.

Nervous and reactive dogs

I’ve found that I love working with nervous dogs, and dogs that struggle with other dogs. It means I work with quite a few rescue dogs and I love this. Patience with animals is never something I’m short of, and patience has a big role to play in helping the dogs get to know you, to trust you. And the rewards you get back are incredible. Seeing nervous or reactive dogs grow in confidence and become more playful and responsive to you (and everyday life around them) is amazing.

At the same time I’m making steady progress studying for my Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Anyone who’s studying whilst working or running a business full time, knows this is a challenge. It will probably be two years before I finish this.

Always learning

Plus I’m learning new games to play for my clients’ dogs and my own pup each week. Learning all the time is what keeps a job interesting. No matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, I think it’s essential to keep growing and learning. The field of dog training is also changing all the time as we learn more and more about how dogs’ brains work. Many training methods I see now are so out of date. I find it hard to stand back and watch people telling their dogs off for something, without giving the dog any idea what it’s supposed to do instead. Hopefully I can just quietly influence and demonstrate the power of modern, fun, games-based training. I love it when people come up to me in parks and ask about training, when they’ve seen the way a dog is ‘working’ (playing) with me.

This job is so interesting because the dogs are all different. Even dogs that are the same breed are not the same. Very early on in my training I learned that you train the dog in front of you. It’s useful to know about breed characteristics, but this only tells you part of the story.

I’d like to thank all of my clients that have trusted me with their dogs over the last ten months. I look after them as if they are my own.