When I work with clients, my goal is to help the dog and the family to fit in together. I believe that there is no right and wrong behaviour (with a few exceptions). The only thing that matters is what the owners feel comfortable with. Hence, the training will always be tailored to your needs, not to some general standard. For you to feel confident and to know what to expect, I have briefly outlined the way I work.
Duration: 30-40 minutes
Location: client’s house
Goal: to see whether we like each other, to assess the dog, and to find out about the client’s needs
The initial consultation serves two purposes. First, it provides an opportunity for the clients to meet me in person, to describe their situation and to decide whether they like my style. Second, it gives me a chance to find out more about my clients’ needs, to meet and assess the dog and to make sure that I can help. Often, I will provide some initial suggestions on feeding, exercise, training routine and house rules. I will also discuss what training aids (such as a clicker, a treat pouch, a lead etc.) will be needed, payment options and cost.
After the consultation, I draft a training plan, outlining the issues we discussed, the goals of training and possible ways to achieve them. This is a training plan for my latest client, an Old Tibetan Terrier called Milo (yes, it is a popular name among my clients).
First Training Session
Duration: 50-60 minutes
Location: client’s house
Goal: to introduce the dog and the owner to training
I use the first training session to let the dog and the owners to get used to training practices as well as for myself to adjust to the learning style. We cover the basics of reinforcement and punishment (e.g. “time-out”) and clicker training. I get a chance to see how well the dog is able to focus on training and how the dog learns. During the first session, I cover some basic exercises, which will lay the foundation for further training.
Further Training Sessions
Duration: 50-60 minutes each
Location: client’s house, garden, street and local parks
Goal: to meet the client’s needs and to give them tools to solve any problems in future
The basic structure of each session is as follows:
-specific issues work
Usually, the dog will need a couple of short breaks, especially, if it is a younger dog. I use this time to answer questions and to explain the exercises. How many session you will need depends on how much time you will invest in training between sessions, on your and your dog’s learning speed and on your goals. On average, five to seven sessions will be enough for you to learn the basics of dog training and to see how they can be applied to your dog’s learning.
Don’t expect to see the progress straight away. The learning usually follows a similar pattern. After the first session, you may feel confused. The second and third sessions will seem easier, but you probably won’t notice much progress in your dog’s behaviour. You may doubt that the training works, but don’t be tempted to quit and don’t be upset. It is after the third or the fourth session, when a breakthrough happens. I always see a positive change in my clients’ mood after that.
This is a general outline of the dog training process and of how I work. Please, don’t hesitate to ask questions.