What is a Training Consultation?
Often when looking to work with a dog professional, people are unsure what to look for in a professional. I always tell my enquiries and clients that you need to find the right fit for you and your companion dog. Support offered can vary, from training and behaviour packages, group classes to multiple session bookings. Often I have a waiting list, and space out clients so that I can provide full support, for new clients this may mean a wait from our discovery call and initial Zoom session, to booking a full 121 session to begin a training plan together.
I prefer to take an individual approach and be client-led, so my support will be tailored to you and your dog. It is my job to teach you how to train your dog, the more information and feedback you give me the more I can move you forward. The hard work comes down to you, your practise, and the time you put into your partnership with your dog, however, I will be there for support on your training journey.
Key points to look for in a professional
Are they assessed by an organisation body? What was the assessment criteria?
Does the professional have indemnity and liability insurance? Do they have risk assessments?
What are the professional's ethics? Are those transparent?
Do they have transparent CPD? Are the courses online recognised OCN/Ofqual courses?
Has the trainer got videos of them training with their own dog and of their work with clients available on their website and social media? Do they share training content?
Has the trainer/behaviourist completed practical skills courses? Have they had their skills assessed in person?
Red Flags: Does the trainer use force, intimidation, aversive tools or punitive methods? These include slip collars and leads, headcollars, choke chains, prong collar or e-collar to change or stop behaviour. Often dogs will be forced into situations and environments to 'see' the unwanted behaviour. Do they quote outdated information such as dominance in dogs, alpha hierarchy, pack theory and leader quotes on their website?
Reward-based, qualified trainers will not place dogs into situations and environments to see unwanted behaviour, as will work under threshold, and where the dog is comfortable and relaxed. This is why you do not see before and after videos from reward-based professionals often, as we work under the dog's threshold, minimising stress.
A professional trainer will look at WHY the behaviour is occurring, often will require a vet check to rule out health concerns that may be the cause of behaviour changes. They will also explain behaviour in terms of operant and classical conditioning within their training plan. A trainer will also explain canine body language, stress signals, trigger stacking and much more.
Firstly, an enquiry will come to our inbox, message, voicemail or call for dog training support. We will then arrange a day/time that is convenient to talk to you more in-depth about how we can help you further, about our process and whether or not your case may need to be referred to a local colleague. Often there is a waiting list as we only take on a certain amount of cases at a time as fully commit to our tailored support.
We arrange a day/time to talk with you in-depth about your training support needs and begin to gather information to begin a plan for training sessions. We will also explain the next steps which include sending you a link to a full questionnaire, terms and conditions and often vet form. The questionnaire may have parts that are irrelevant, we ask you to fill in as much information as possible so we can help you and your dog. We also ask you to book a vet check where you have your dog registered so that the vet can give their consent for us to see you and your dog. Medical issues need to be ruled out as could impact a behaviour modification and training plan.
Our next step is to arrange a remote Zoom session. This is where we can discuss the questionnaire, ask each other questions and often place in immediate management if necessary, or some training foundations before our in-person session together. It is also a good opportunity to get to know each other prior to our session either at your home or at an enclosed field. We also set up a WhatsApp group for further support and sharing information.
Our In-Person Session or Full Remote Session is then booked in. During this session, we will work through planned behaviours, management and training skills. You will be given a folder with the session plan, training schedule and worksheets to continue at home. We will be available for any questions or concerns you have. This may be carried on at your home, an enclosed field, on a walk or remotely, depending on your and your dog's needs. This means I am also able to work with clients out of area as well successfully.
We will then go away and work on a full written training plan, breaking down each skill, protocol and management into steps. Also included will be information on canine body language and stress signals, further support, games, enrichment and much more. This is an in-depth document which we always hope that each client finds useful to refer back to. A training schedule and behaviour diary is included for 1 month as well, this gives us information on how the training plan is successful and where it may be changing or being added to. The more information you give us, the more support we can continue to give to you and your canine companion.
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