If you are seeking a dog trainer for your furry friend, should you go with the cheapest one who can guarantee results? No way, says the Dog Trainer! And here's why...
A colleague of mine just heard from a prospective client who is seeking a dog behavioral specialist for her pup. Prospective Client – let’s call her PC – cc’d her husband on the email to my colleague, and Husband accidentally replied to my colleague when he meant to reply only to PC. Oops, time to call Modern Manners Guy!
But I’m the Dog Trainer, so I won't worry about the social ramifications of the Reply All button. My concern is that Husband had gotten a much cheaper rate – and guaranteed results! – from another trainer. Husband therefore thought that he and PC should go with the cheaper, “guaranteed” trainer and see what happened. Oh, what a bad idea.
The problem with price-shopping and guarantee-shopping when you’re looking for a trainer is that a trainer isn’t a mechanic, and a dog isn’t a car. The Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers has a code of ethics, to which all certified trainers must subscribe. The code requires that our methods be humane and as scientifically sound as we can make them. But it expressly forbids us to guarantee specific results.
Why? Because no living thing is 100% controllable. Life isn’t 100% controllable. Every dog has his or her individual history, strengths, and vulnerabilities. Every person has her or his own individual history, strengths, and vulnerabilities. Every block of a city street or a suburban neighborhood is unique, which means that the context in which you’re working with your dog is unique – and, again, not 100% controllable. That’s why it’s unethical for a dog trainer or behavior consultant to guarantee results.
If you take your car to a bad mechanic, you waste some money and time. You may wind up with a bigger repair job than you had in the first place. If you put your dog in the hands of a bad trainer, you also waste money and time. Worse: That “bigger repair job” isn’t a matter of replacing or repairing an unfeeling part. It’s a “repair job” on a living being who may be hurt or even traumatized.
Money’s an issue for almost everybody. And in the long run, most of us will save money -- and heartache -- if we choose a trainer by putting qualifications first.