Dog Aggression Experts – What Does That Mean To Our Clients?

I was talking to one of my trainer friends today, and she told me that a client she was working with had informed her that when the client went on vacation she was going to board her dog with a “dog aggression expert.” My trainer friend said this somewhat ironically, because she also specializes in dog aggression – in fact, she teaches other trainers how to work with aggressive dogs! Additionally, this “dog aggression expert” is in a town several hours away. Granted, she was not originally called in for an aggression issue with this dog, but her clients didn’t even ask if she works with aggression.

After our conversation, I started thinking about this. It occurred to me that when a client goes to another trainer who is a “dog aggression expert,” it seems to me that it’s almost always a man. Why is this? Does the public automatically assume that men are better qualified to deal with aggression? Or do men market themselves better than women?  (As an aside, I once held an in-depth marketing course and 75% of the attendees were men – in an industry that is 90% women!)

In discussing this with my friend, I asked her why she thought this was, and she brought up some good points. The first was that she often gets the impression that, because she does prophylactic training such as puppy classes, clients sometimes think she’s a “trainer” vs. a “behavior consultant” or “dog aggression expert.” She also thinks that, if they don’t originally come to you for aggression they find it hard to change their vision of what you do. And, finally, she’s pretty sure that price played a part – at least in this latest incident. The “dog aggression expert” charges $400 per week for a board and train, whereas my friend charges $600 per week with a three-week minimum for an aggression-related board and train.

After this discussion, I decided to do just a little research. First, I Googled the term “dog aggression expert ‘city’.”  I chose the 10 largest cities in the U.S.  I only looked at the first page (first 10 listings), and I only included sites of trainers – i.e., no informational sites, directories, franchise sites, sites outside the specified area, repeats, etc. Based solely on gender, the results were a tie! There were a total of 17 men and 17 women trainers in the top ten listings for the ten largest cities in the U.S.  Interesting. . .

Next, I looked at the sites of five female trainers that I know do primarily aggression; I looked at their home page and the page(s) that describe their aggression-related services. Only one used the phrase “dog aggression expert,” and she only used it once, that I could find.

Finally, the thing that struck me when Googling “dog aggression expert” was the photos. So, I went back and did another count. There were four sites with pictures depicting aggression and/or bites; a couple of those sites had extremely graphic pictures, and one site’s pictures were quite mild. But, they were all businesses owned by men. Is this meaningful? I don’t know – tell me what you think.

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