Professional Dog Trainer: Tips from a Veteran

Ah, these young, dog trainer, whippersnappers have it so easy. Back when I was learning how to become a professional dog trainer, I used to walk 18 miles in the snow, carrying 40 pounds of dog treats, wearing flip flops, with a clicker the size of a TOASTER … er, not really.

My goal is not to come across as a grizzled, old, veteran dog trainer who paid her dues while everyone starting in the dog training profession today has it easy. Rookie trainers face many challenges when entering the industry. This is hard work to get into, and even harder to do it well. The benefits new trainers have today include many more educational opportunities than were available when I started more than 25 years ago. And, you have old … er, vintage dog trainers like me who are willing to help you learn the ropes!

Join me October 9 at 10 a.m. Central for the live webinar, Things I Wish I’d Known When I First Became a Professional Dog Trainer, offered by Raising Canine. You’ll get tips that some of us veterans learned the hard way, on topics including dogs, clients, and business. If you’re just starting your journey as a dog trainer, or if you’re thinking about getting into the field, this webinar is definitely for you. It will also be great for those considering making the leap from other jobs into training dogs full time.

This webinar, by Teoti Anderson, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP for Raising Canine will be live October 9 at 10 a.m. Central. If you join us live you’ll be able to ask questions. If you can’t join us live, no worries. You can purchase the webinar for listening later. Real-life tips for the professional dog trainer industry via webinar — technology I certainly didn’t have when I started out! Take advantage today!

Online Education for Dog Trainers: Leash Handling

Online Education for Dog Trainers: The Forgotten Art of Leash Handling and How to Keep Yourself and Others Safe in Aggression Cases

By Michael Shikashio CDBC

Pop quiz! Do you know your leash size? More on that in a bit…

The recent explosion of online education for dog trainers has been a wonderful way to access the most up-to-date, relevant information to enhance our knowledge of dog training and behavior. Though, one component in this sea of knowledge that has been pushed to the wayside is the art of leash handling.

Those of us that started out with “traditional” methods will remember the leash as more of a training tool. Nowadays, we have many other tools, including the skillful use of re-enforcers that make the leash more of a management device. Though, this shouldn’t devalue the usefulness a leash can bring to the table when defensively handling dogs who may bite. A solid grasp of the mechanics of leash handling in aggression cases by dog trainers will significantly reduce the risk of dog bites to the handler, other people, or other animals.

With proactive leash handling, it’s all about the milliseconds. To promote safety with ourselves and our clients, we want to buy ourselves “dog bite time.” Holding the leash properly when defensively handling a dog can mean the difference between a full damaging bite or a “swing and a miss” air snap. Much like avoiding a nasty car crash with first-rate defensive driving, the defensive handler buys themselves those valuable milliseconds by being proactive, rather than reactive.

Ok, so what is your leash size? It is the width of a leash that will fit comfortably in your hand while allowing you to quickly use a variety of leash handling skills when necessary. Too wide and it will create folds in the leash which can cost you “dog bite time.” Too narrow and it can cause pain or discomfort to your hand when a strong dog pulls or lunges, or worse, break when you need it most.

Next question in the pop quiz – on what side of your body do you hold the leash? Are you a “cross body feeder” or a “same side feeder?”

When it comes to defensive handling and working with dogs with a history of aggression, it is best to have the leash holding hand on the same side as the dog. Is the dog on your left? The leash should be in your left hand. This buys you valuable milliseconds as it will take less time to tighten the leash for control in an emergency situation (either getting the dog away from someone or another animal, or yourself) than if you have to move your arm all the way across your body — light years in “dog bite time.”

Last question in the pop quiz – will you be able to control a dog better with two hands or one hand on the leash? A common answer would be “two hands of course!” This is only true if both hands are at the anchor point of the leash (the point at which the leash is being controlled). If there is any slack in the leash between the trainer’s hands, then only the hand closest to the dog is truly doing any work. The other hand is simply a “security blanket” at that point.

You can learn more about a variety of defensive leash handling techniques and other online education for dog trainers at Raising Canine: (The Forgotten Art of Leash Handling – How to Keep Yourself and Others Safe in Aggression Cases), including leash locks, leash muzzles, leash harnesses, leash quick shortening, proper positioning, and even proactive handling for busy environments.

Michael Shikashio, CDBC, is the past president of the IAABC and provides private consultations working exclusively with dog aggression through his business Complete Canines LLC. He is a featured speaker at conferences around the world and is sought after for his expert opinion by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, New York Post, WebMD, Women’s Health Magazine, and Real Simple Magazine.

Online Dog Trainer Courses: Fearful Dogs

Fearful dogs can be a challenge

Online dog trainer courses focusing on fearful dogs

Shy puppies. Terrified adult dogs. As a professional dog trainer, does it seem to you like there are more fearful dogs, or are people just reaching out more often for help? How can you help these wallflowers blossom into confident, social dogs? What precautions do you need to take as a professional dog trainer? How do you help pet parents set realistic expectations? We’ll cover these topics and more in the series of upcoming Raising Canine online dog trainer courses, Working with Fearful Dogs, presented by certified professional dog trainer and author Teoti Anderson. Join us Wednesday, July 10 at 10 a.m. Central (9:00 a.m. Pacific, 11:00 a.m. Eastern).

Working with fearful dogs is not just for any dog trainer. You need additional education in order to help these dogs, or you could be making the problem much worse. For example, Timothy is a shy puppy coming to your Puppy Kindergarten class. The first night, he is mobbed by the other, rowdier, puppies in the class. The next week it happens again, and the next. By the end of the class session, Timothy is growling at the other puppies. Is he just standing up for himself? Well, yes. But what started out as a wallflower is now a reactive dog. This could have been prevented with the proper puppy introductions and interactions.

Another scenario is that you get called in to help an adult dog who has a history of being fearful and reactive. How do you help this dog, when he’s had years of practicing aggressive behavior due to his fear? Science is the answer, and you’ll learn about it during this Raising Canine webinar.

More importantly, you’ll also learn how to help pet parents who are struggling with their fearful dogs. Owning a fearful dog can be incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking. You’ll learn tips on how to help your clients through this difficult process.

Working with fearful dogs is a challenge, but it’s also rewarding. Seeing a shy dog gain confidence is a thrill. Make sure you’re on the right track. Join us at Raising Canine for Working with Fearful Dogs, presented by Teoti Anderson, certified professional dog trainer and author. The webinar will be live Wednesday, July 10 at 10: a.m. Central. Join us live so you can ask questions and interact with our presenter. Or if you can’t make it live, you will be able to purchase the webinar from  Raising Canine’s many online dog trainer courses to enjoy later.

Professional Dog Trainers: Precursors for Aggression

Growling, snarling, snapping, and lunging — all behaviors a dog can display to mean “back away!” It’s as if to say “the water is boiling over here…don’t get burnt!” What if professional dog trainers could recognize when the water is just getting warm? We could greatly reduce the risk of getting burned by getting the pot off the stove way ahead of time.

Dogs can use many other communicative signals that often come before the boiling stage. Most professional dog trainers can recognize the subtler signs such as freezing, hard staring, tongue flicks, or whale eye. Then there are signals that may even come at earlier stages – when the water is just getting warm. Some examples are respiration changes or a dog shifting its weight in a certain direction which can be the “just putting the pot on the stove” moments.

When skilled observation of dog body language is combined with situational awareness, avoiding an aggressive dog bite can be significantly shifted in our favor. There are a number of contexts in which a trainer may be bitten, and they go beyond the usual walking through the front door to meet an unleashed “stranger danger” case. Being aware of the many common situations where dogs may feel the need to bite is crucial for our safety.If you’re ever bored on a Sunday afternoon and have a strong stomach, search up the term “dog bite” on YouTube. You will find many obvious antecedents for biting by a variety of Darwin Award Winners, however, there are some very subtle precursors that one might observe in some of the bites.

I often say “we like dogs who breathe.” When perusing the videos, a very common theme is that dogs will close their mouth, as if to hold their breath for a very brief moment right before a bite. No growling, snarling, lunging, or snapping — just a brief pause in their breathing right before the dog inflicts a bite. This may or may not be accompanied by a number of other signals, such as a hard stare, whale eye, freeze, or even a prey bow. It’s the dogs who pause for that millisecond before the bite without any other signals that we have to be extra cautious with when handling.

While binge watching dog bite videos, one might see some very obvious reasons for the dogs to resort to aggression, and some common themes surface. Reaching towards or petting a dog giving clear signals to back off, taking a dog’s food or toy away, or getting face to face with an unfamiliar dog are some of the prevailing contexts.

What about professional dog trainers? What are the common contexts in which they are bitten?

Here is one scenario that might be familiar to you, and one that many trainers I know have been bitten:
A trainer has been working with a dog for an entire session with no issues. The dog is happily offering behaviors and seems affiliative throughout the entire hour or two, giving the trainer no cause for concern. The trainer thanks the client at the end of the session and starts to head for the door and that’s when the dog bites them right in the calf or rear end.

Here’s where that situational awareness (and a bit of experience) comes into play. It only takes a brief moment for a trainer to let down their guard and miss the subtle signals a dog is giving in that context.

Giving the dog “one for the road,” also known as a treat tossed in a direction away from the door can prevent these “don’t let the door hit you in the butt” moments.

Are you interested in learning about other subtle signals a dog may give and the contexts in which they may bite? You can learn more in this on-line dog trainer course: Precursors for Aggression: Getting the Pot Off the Stove BEFORE You Get Burnt!

Michael Shikashio, CDBC, is the past president of the IAABC and provides private consultations working exclusively with dog aggression through his business Complete Canines LLC. He is a featured speaker at conferences around the world and is sought after for his expert opinion by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, New York Post, WebMD, Women’s Health Magazine, and Real Simple Magazine.

Dog Training: Niche Classes

It’s pretty typical for professional dog trainers to run group classes. They can be a trainer’s “bread and butter,” often providing steady revenue throughout the year. The most common classes include a Basic, or Family Manners class, in which dogs learn fundamental behaviors, such as Sit, Down, Come, Stay and Walking Nicely on Leash. Another common offering is an Advanced Manners class, offering additional training that builds on the foundation learned in the Basic class. Have you ever considered moving beyond the typical dog training format and offering something special? Niche dog training classes may be perfect for your dog training business.

Niche classes have a lot of benefits for professional dog trainers. In the Raising Canine webinar, Expanding Your Business with Niche Classes, offered by certified professional dog trainer Teoti Anderson (, you’ll get the scoop on expanding your menu and appealing to more clients.

Niche classes, such as how to train a dog to walk on a leash, can expand your offerings and make you more appealing in your market. They give you the opportunity to stretch and offer something different. As much as you may love offering basic classes, it can sometimes get tiring offering the same class over and over. Sometimes, you just get the itch to teach something new! How about a class in positive dog training techniques or training a rescue dog?

Niche classes also help bring in additional revenue and can be tailored for your individual business market. For example, if your community has a lot of children, offering a class for young handlers may be extremely popular. Tricks classes can also be appealing to children.

Do you ever have slower times at specific times of the year? Offering shorter niche dog training classes on single topics may help bridge your gap, bringing in revenue during a traditionally slower time.

The Raising Canine webinar, Expanding Your Business with Niche Classes, is coming up Wednesday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Central. Register now at and learn how you can take your dog training business to the next level!

For more information on this course or to enroll, go to

Teoti Anderson, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, has been a professional dog trainer for more than 24 years. She is the author of The Dog Problem Behavior Solver, Ultimate Guide to Dog Training, Dog Training 101, and more. Teoti is also a popular international speaker and educates pet parents and fellow trainers on canine behavior. (Do you want a link? If so, you can also include: For more information, visit her at


Dog Obedience Training: 6 Questions

I’ve been teaching dog obedience training courses for over two decades now. I’ve worked with clients both individually and in groups and focus primarily on family pet training (household manners and having a good pet). Here are the most common questions I get about starting a dog training class…along with the one important question that rarely gets asked.

  1. Question: How long will it take to train my dog? Answer: A year. Ok…it really depends on the dog, the trainer, and what you are trying to teach. It also depends on how much follow up you do at home. But I would recommend you plan on working with your dog for at least a year to reinforce the things you are learning in class. That doesn’t mean you have to take dog obedience training classes for a year (although if you find a fun class and a great instructor, why not? It’s a great way to build a relationship with your dog). A 6-week class will teach you the basics, which you will need to reinforce over the next several months in order for your dog to be consistent. You won’t have Lassie after a 6-week class. And if you never practice outside of class, you might never have Lassie. I would recommend spending at least 15-20 minutes a day working with your dog.  More is even better.
  2. Question: How long do I need to use the treats, the clicker, the gentle leader, the harness, the (fill in the blank with any tool). Answer: A year. Haha. Ok..again, it really depends. If you want your dog to be proficient and you don’t want to rely on training tools, then you need to plan on some initial training time, then time to get the dog more reliable in the behavior, then time to phase out the training tool. I think a year is a good estimate. However, for a basic family pet, I’m not sure why this question matters so much. Why does it matter if you need to use a treat or a harness? Even when my previous dog was in his teens, I would still take treats with me when I walked him. I didn’t use treats to get him to sit, down, or stay, but if he comes to me rather than chasing a squirrel, I’m going to reward him with treats because there is no better way for me to tell my dog he is an amazingly smart pup! Positive dog training requires a different mind-set than we had in the bad old days – but it’s just a skill, and with practice we can become quite good at it.
  3. Question: If I use treats, will my dog only work for food? Answer: No..not if you are listening to your dog training instructor. Let’s be clear…the main reason for using food is to reward your dog AFTER he does the desired behavior. (What gets rewarded, gets repeated…that’s the whole point). While it is true that you can help your dog initially by luring him with the food, a good trainer will have you phase the food out within a few repetitions. If your dog will only work for food it’s because you are training him to look for the food BEFORE the behavior rather than rewarding him with the food after the behavior. This is an important distinction and one that is easily resolved with help by a good instructor.
  4. Question: If I use a clicker, how long do I have to carry the clicker around? Answer: A few weeks for any new behavior. The clicker is simply a sound that marks good behavior. It tells the dog when they have done something right. Once the dog understands what the right behavior looks like, you can phase out the clicker.
  5. Question: What kind of treats should I use? Answer: High value treats. That means something that is soft, smelly, and rarely provided to your dog outside of training. If you want a strong reinforcer, the food needs to be enticing to the dog (smelly), easy for the dog to eat so that you can reinforce quickly without waiting for the dog to chew something (soft), and motivating to the dog (something he rarely gets outside of training). At home your dog might work for his kibble and I don’t see any problem with using kibble when the dog is not distracted. But when you are in a dog obedience training class or any new environment, use something better.
  6. Question: Will my dog get fat if I train with treats? Answer: Not if you are giving him small pieces. A hot dog can be cut into over 100 pieces. Treats don’t necessarily have to be big to be effective. I would rather you give lots and lots of tiny treats rather than be stingy with a few larger treats. Training your dog with the equivalent of a couple hot dogs a day isn’t going to make him fat. The secret is to actually reward him with treats for doing something…don’t just feed him because you happen to have treats in your hand.

All of these are great questions and hopefully these answers are helpful. But there is one more question that I think is really important…but rarely asked.

What do I do if my dog doesn’t listen to me? Different trainers will answer this question differently. In my opinion the answer should be geared toward understanding how to help you be more motivating, more encouraging, and more bonded with your dog. The answer should troubleshoot the situations that cause your dog’s lack of response and the ways you can strengthen your dog’s behavior using positive reinforcement methods. The answer should discuss practicing with your dog, setting your dog up for success, and slowly adding distractions, duration, and distance to help your dog improve in a wide range of environments. The answer should not include anything that involves hitting, shocking, or physically punishing your dog for failing to listen to you. Ask this question next time you are looking for a trainer. It might be helpful to you achieve successful dog obedience training.

What other questions do you ask before you start working with a dog trainer?

If you’re a trainer and would like to learn about how to structure Levels classes, Robin is presenting a webinar called Developing A Levels Based Training Model on June 12, 2019.

Robin Bennett is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, author, speaker, and expert on dogs. She founded one of the largest dog training companies in Virginia and has been using her expertise in “reading dogs” to teach families how to train their pets as well as helping others in the pet care industry keep dogs safe for over 20 years. Robin’s first book, All About Dog Daycare is the number one reference on opening a dog daycare. She is also Co-author of Off-Leash Dog Play… A Complete Guide to Safety and Fun, and an extensive staff training program called, Knowing Dogs, which are the leading staff training resources for dog daycare and boarding facilities. Robin is currently co-founder of The Dog Gurus, the nation’s premier resource for dog care professionals. Through The Dog Gurus she is now helping pet care professionals get their lives back by showing them how to create sustainable businesses with teams that truly know dogs.

Courses for Dog Trainers: House Training

Never was a dog training subject so enshrined in mystery and mythology, so misunderstood, as house training. No other dog training project causes as much frustration, aggravation and disappointment as house training. And there are so few courses for dog trainers that address this topic.

The house training industry is swollen with products to attract the beast, encourage the act and contain the waste. Pheromones, posts, sprays and wipes promise to help your dog know where to go. Pads, litter boxes, sacks and bags help to capture and contain the mess. Soaks, enzymes and oxy-stuff will neutralize the odor and eliminate the stain, leaving your home as fresh as a meadow in spring. But does any of this stuff work? Is any of this at all necessary?

Let’s not forget about the dog’s part in this. Did Fluffy really poop on your bed because he’s angry you went to Dairy Queen without him? Or maybe it’s separation anxiety? Is Spot peeing on the carpet because he’s lonely, or did he just forget where to go? And is there any such thing as partially house trained?

When I was a kid, about a hundred years ago, all our dogs were house trained with little more than a baby gate and a stack of newspapers. How is it possible that this low-tech solution was so effective, but now, in this modern age, house training still sits high on the list of dog behavior problems people seek help for. And that frustrate dog owners for months (and sometimes years) before seeking help. And sometimes, sadly, the dog that doesn’t know where to go will lose his home as a result.

The fundamentals of house training will be revealed to you in a 90-minute dog training course webinar called “The Straight Sh*t About House Training” (One of the best courses for dog trainers). We’ll lay out a simple house training protocol that will work great for 95% of all dogs. We’ll have solutions for puppies and adults, and even those latchkey dogs your relatives claim you can’t train. We’ll debunk the myths and legends about house training products, which ones are worth your time and money and which ones aren’t (hint: most of them aren’t!). We’ll even have help for the more challenging cases that have stumped so many for long. Whether you’re a dog trainer helping owners, or an owner with a house training problem, or a new puppy, or just want to be prepared for your next challenge, then this webinar is for you!

Barbara Davis, CDBC has been a dog trainer and behavior consultant for over 35 years. Barbara is a founding member of IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants), and has been Dog Division Chair since 2013. Committed to continuing education, she is faculty mentor for IAABC’s acclaimed Animal Behavior Consulting: Principles & Practice course, and offers many other workshops and seminars through her business in southern California. She’ll be presenting her webinar, The Straight Sh*t About House Training on May 8.

How to Become a Dog Trainer: Professionalism is More than Just Money

If someone needs a thing done but does not want or know how to do the thing, like how to train a dog to walk on a leash, they can hire someone else to do the thing. If enough people want the same thing, the thing becomes a profession. Some things require skill, some require strength. Many things are learned over decades,  for instance, how to become a dog trainer, many others only need days. From astronauts to apple pickers to accountants, there are countless professions out there and even more people doing them. If it’s a job, and you get paid for it, you’re a professional. Though perhaps overly simplistic with many exceptions, that is essentially how it works.

Along this line of thought, at first blush it might seem reasonable that one becomes more professional or perhaps a better professional the longer they do the thing or the more they get paid for doing the thing. However, I’m sure we can agree with a resounding NO that this is not at all the case. I’m also sure we can all think of certain thing-doers out there who are getting paid a ridiculous amount of money and have done the thing for a disturbingly long time, yet are not very good at doing the thing. We can all also probably name several other thing-doers who are exceptionally skilled at the thing yet are barely making ends meet. This might even be you! This disparity applies to pretty much any profession, but perhaps may be even more pronounced among professions that are not at all or not very well regulated. Perfect examples can be found within the companion animal industry. Now if we consider all of these different kinds of thing-doers out there, who are all doing the same types of things, but are doing them with different degrees of ability, and getting paid different amounts: are they all professionals? Well, if they are getting paid for it than, technically, yes. However, I believe that true professionalism is more than just money from doing something.

In my opinion, when learning how to become a professional dog trainer, there is an enormous difference between being a professional, and being professional. Further, this difference is not based on how long you’ve been doing the thing or how much you get paid for the thing. Rather, the difference is based on much more. A few examples are as follows.

Ability. A perfect example of professionalism is being able to do the thing! Having natural abilities is always a really great thing to have, especially when working with animals. One can significantly improve that ability by doing the thing, practicing and modifying to improve efficacy, and pursuing regular and on-going education.

Reliability. A professional shows up, on time, and does what they say they will, and meet or exceed expectations. Organization, realistic awareness of ability and limitations, and many other factors contribute toward reliability. My favorite motto is to always under promise and over deliver.

Communication. How you transfer information to others about yourself, your services, and your ability are critical to being professional. How you write, speak, dress, and act are all forms of communication that occur whether you are at work or at the grocery store. Knowing how much information to give, when to give it and when stay quiet, how to encourage as well as correct, and how to maintain boundaries are all skills any professional will need.

Ethics. Ethics for pet industries are often outlined by certification or education organizations, which many professionals are obligated to adhere to in order to maintain affiliation. Beyond that, it’s up to the professional to decide what they consider right or wrong, in terms of things like refunds, talking about clients to others, talking about other professionals to others, and so on.

Ego. It’s good to be proud of your accomplishments and toot your own horn from time to time. However, bragging and arrogance tend to be signs of less than professionalism. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong, while sticking to your guns when you’re right.

These are just a few ideas to consider with regard to professionalism and how to become a dog trainer.  In my upcoming Keeping it Professional webinar on May 1 at 10am central, I will discuss this and more and go into more detail about concepts. My goal herein as well as via the webinar are to try to provide even a single helpful idea for increasing your own professionalism. I love what I do and I want to see everyone succeed at what they do.


Through her company, Jones Animal Behavior, Katenna Jones provides behavior consulting services to cat and dog owners, guidance to local rescues, and educational events to pet lovers and professionals. She is an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, Certified Cat and Dog Behavior Consultant, and Certified Pet Dog Trainer.

For more information and access to over three hundred webinars are telecourses, go to Raising Canine.

Dog Behavior Training: Treat or Euthanize

When doing dog behavior training, we’ve all had at least one – that case where we just don’t know if we’ll ever be able to improve the dog’s behavior. Inevitably, it’s an extreme emotional problem – aggression, fear, or anxiety. The animal is either hurting himself or hurting someone else. We all have our own way of dealing with these situations. Personally, I don’t want to recommend euthanasia. I feel that the dog should be seen by a veterinary behaviorist, because there are many things they can do that a trainer cannot. Until this avenue has been explored, I feel it’s inappropriate for me to make that life or death call.

I have vivid memories of one particular case I had like that. It was a rescued coon hound. The background info said that he’d been a medical research dog. Of course, we never know for sure if this type of information is correct. I had some doubts because a coon hound is a pretty big dog, and most labs want smaller animals because of space issues. However, this dog was not normal by any stretch of the imagination, and that type of environment could certainly result in aberrant behavior.

The owners brought the dog to me, and the minute I saw him, I knew I was not going to approach him – he was flat out scary – this was not going to be straight forward, good old dog obedience training! He had a hard stare the entire time he was there, as well as penile crowning and piloerection. He was not affiliative to me or the owners. At this time, I was running a dog sanctuary, and he didn’t even seem particularly curious about the dogs in the environment. No sniffing around, looking out windows, etc. Just very abnormal behavior, in my opinion.

During the intake I learned that the dog had attacked the husband (the less dog-savvy of the two) three times. The last time he sent the husband to the hospital. The dog was a severe resource guarder and they lived in a very small space. They had an apartment in Manhattan, and anyone who’s lived in New York City knows that unless you’re wealthy, you’re going to live in a very small space. They also had a small one-room cabin in the Catskills. So, in either home, space was tight.

In the last incident, the husband had been in the kitchen cooking dinner and the dog started growling and stalking the husband – I assumed he was guarding the food that was cooking, but it could have been something else. The husband backed up, but the dog came after him. As we know, in most aggressive situations, the dog just wants space between you and him or the object he’s guarding. In this case, the fact that the husband was creating that space didn’t affect the dog’s behavior. He trapped the husband in the bathroom and attacked him, sending him to the hospital for several stitches – I can’t remember how many, but it was a lot. That was when they called me.

The wife was willing to euthanize the dog, but the husband wasn’t. The wife was dog savvy and didn’t have problems with the coon hound except in specific situations, and she was experienced enough to know how to deal with those situations. It was the husband’s first dog, and he was adamant that he wanted to try working with the behavior before giving up on him.

After taking the history, I decided to refer them to the vet behaviorist in Cornell. In dog behavior training, we trainers do not have to make that decision. We can, and should, refer a case like this on to a vet behaviorist. There are many things a vet can do that a trainer cannot.

The first reason I didn’t want to take on this case was because I was frightened by the dog, so that didn’t bode well for working with him. I could have given instructions and kept my distance, or we could have desensitized him to a muzzle but, all-in-all, I really didn’t want to work with this dog.

The other reason I didn’t want to take on this case was because the wife was adamant that she wanted to walk in the woods with the dog off leash. I felt this was dangerous and a liability waiting to happen. I could see the dog guarding something – a carcass, garbage, whatever – and some innocent bystander walking by and getting attacked. Unless the wife would agree to keep him on leash, I wasn’t willing to risk that. And she really wanted him to be able to roam.

They met with the vet behaviorist, and it was recommended that they euthanize the dog. They called me, very upset – they hadn’t like the vet behaviorist and felt that she had no empathy. Personally, I wasn’t at all surprised that she recommend euthanasia, and was in agreement with that recommendation. However, they did not want to work with her and really wanted me to help them. Aargh!

I wasn’t going to put myself in that position. I’d already decided I didn’t want to work with this dog, and had informed them of that decision and why I made it. However, I did give them some dog behavior training help. One of the situations where the wife had problems was when the dog was in his crate, so I gave her a protocol for approaching and opening the crate. The other situation was when he had chews, so again, I gave her a protocol.

They reported back to me a couple of times to let me know that things were going well. The wife had no problem approaching the crate, and could even take chews away from the dog. However, the situation with the husband had not improved much – at this point it was a whole lot of management.

Then, one evening I got a hysterical call from the wife. The dog had attacked the husband and he was in the hospital with some very serious injuries. At this point, the husband agreed that the dog should be euthanized. It was a difficult call for the owners; they suffered a lot of guilt over that decision. Personally, I had no problem with it. I didn’t see this dog ever being reliable enough to be considered safe.

Ultimately, this situation was a pretty easy call. It’s those other cases where you feel like there’s hope for the dogs that are difficult. And that’s why Dr. Lore Haug will be doing a webinar for us on that very topic!

If you’d like to attend this webinar, you can get more information here: 

Susan Smith, CPDT-KA, CDBC is the owner of Raising Canine, LLC, (, which provides online education for professional dog trainers and dog behavior consultants, as well as business and marketing education and consulting to help their businesses, including an intensive course for those wanting to become professional dog trainers. Sue is also the co-author of the book “Positive Gun Dogs: Clicker Training for Sporting Breeds.” Sue is certified through CCPDT and IAABC. She is an ex-Board member for the CCPDT, an active, professional member of CCPDT, APDT, and IAABC, and was named APDT Member of the Year in 2004.

Dog Training Courses: Clients in Group Classes

As a professional dog trainer running group dog training courses. One person is talking on his cell phone. A couple others have struck up a conversation with each other and are ignoring you giving instructions to the class. One person has started working his dog while you’re still going over a demo. And another student is wrestling with his barking, adolescent Schnauzer. Sometimes, it may feel like you’re a ringmaster who’s lost control of the circus!

As a professional dog trainer who runs group dog training courses, you face some unique challenges that you generally don’t have to worry about with private lessons. In private lessons, you customize the lesson for one client. In a group class, you typically have a curriculum that you teach to a group of people. Everyone in the class comes with a different skill set, ability to follow directions, individual goals and personalities. Your group class topic may be the same for everyone in the class, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to learn it the same way. And if you have a particularly difficult client or clients in that group class, it can make your job as the instructor that much more challenging.

In the upcoming Raising Canine webinar, Dealing with Difficult Clients in Group Classes, you’ll learn that challenging clients don’t have to be thorns in your side. Most people aren’t trying to be difficult. If you’re going to be completely honest with yourself, aren’t there certain personality types that just seem to rub you the wrong way? That isn’t their fault. As a teacher, it’s your job to help all your students reach their potential.

Understanding how adults learn can go a long way toward better reaching them and help them with their dog obedience training. The webinar will also cover common barriers to success and how to overcome them. For example, what about the Chatty Cathy who keeps interrupting you? Is she just rude … or does she need something else from you? Maybe she’s actually nervous because she feels her dog is out of control and is embarrassing her in the class in front of the other students. Maybe she is an auditory learner – she learns more by listening, rather than watching your dog training courses and dog training video demo. Do you have more patience for that barking Schnauzer than the Chatty Cathy? Then this webinar is definitely for you! After all, if you don’t help the people, you’ll never help their dogs with your dog training courses.

With the Raising Canine webinar Dealing with Difficult Clients in Group Classes, you’ll learn effective, polite ways to deal with common issues that often come up with clients so you can stick to your schedule and still get results. Don’t write off difficult clients! With patience and positive techniques, they may turn into your best customers.

Teoti Anderson, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, has been a professional dog trainer for more than 24 years. She is the author of The Dog Problem Behavior Solver, Ultimate Guide to Dog Training, Dog Training 101, and more. Teoti is also a popular international speaker and educates pet parents and fellow trainers on canine behavior. (Do you want a link? If so, you can also include: For more information, visit her at

For more information on this course, go to Dealing with Difficult Clients in Group Classes. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the hundreds of great on-demand webinars Raising Canine offers – you can find them at this link: