In part two of this three part series, I talked about life with kids after losing my dog, Bailey. In part three, I am going to talk about being a dog trainer without having a dog.
Bailey played a big part in my decision to become a dog trainer. I was always learning from her. I learned early on that Bailey didn’t excel at training when I used more old-school approaches. So, I had to expand my knowledge and find a better fit. That is when I came across positive reinforcement training and it was then that I learned that training could be fun. Our relationship also thrived.
When I started becoming unhappy at my full time job, I decided to find other ways to become happy. That is when I decided to take classes with FetchFind to learn about dog behavior and to maybe eventually become a dog trainer. Fast forward to 6 years later and I couldn’t be happier in my career.
I try to learn something from every client I work with. Some dogs teach me more than others, but Bailey was a constant. She always kept me working and wanting to learn more. Her behavior changed after she was diagnosed with cancer, after my daughter was born, and as she got more sick over time. I was always trying to find new ways to help her.
Bailey was also a great dog to practice with. I loved going to a seminar and learning a new trick and coming home to Bailey and practicing with her. She loved the attention and the increase in treats, and I loved spending time with her and perfecting my skills. Now, I don’t have that outlet. I am lucky that family members allow me to practice with their dogs, but it isn’t the same. I miss the bond that I had with Bailey.
We moved shortly after losing Bailey, so when we got settled in Colorado, I didn’t have the need to run out and find a vet, groomer, pet boutique, etc. This past year I have finally started reaching out to companies and networking. Slowly I am getting my name out, but it wasn’t automatic like it was when Bailey was around. When I started my business, I didn’t always have an easy “in” with companies. I have had to perfect my elevator pitch a little more.
I am lucky that I work with dogs so I can get my dog “fix” whenever I need one. But no dog will fill the gap that I am feeling and have felt since we said goodbye to our precious Bailey. I am very lucky to have had a companion that taught me so much and brought so much to my life. When the timing is right, I will welcome another dog into my life. It is still too early and too hectic right now to even think of it, but I will be so much more prepared for the journey ahead, and I will have Bailey to thank for that.
Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.