How to find a good dog trainer

jamie-with-dogs

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Whether you want to teach your new puppy basic commands or help a rescue dog become more comfortable in his new home, it pays to do your research before hiring a trainer. With so many options out there –  big box stores,  boot camps, boutique trainers – trying to make that decision can make your head spin!  Here are some tips to help make the process easier:

Evaluate. What kind of dog do you have? A 10 week old Lab puppy will have different needs than a 10 year old rescue Chihuahua.

Start googling. Find trainers or training companies near you and see what they have to offer. Keep in mind that in-home trainers, whether they are independent or affiliated with a company, have specific service areas and if you’re too far away you probably won’t be able to book sessions.

If you’re feeling confused by the different types of training philosophies, such as positive, balanced, clicker, etc., click here for more information.

Check the qualifications. Most reputable dog trainers will have formal education and official certification. If you see CPDT-KA after their name, you know they’ve put in the hours to become a respected professional.

Get reviews. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of candidates, start checking the online reviews and social media outlets; you should also ask your friends for their recommendations or for references from the trainer.

Trust your gut. If you’ve done all of your homework and you just don’t like the trainer after you’ve met them, move on. If your dog shows unusual signs of stress or fear, take his word for it and find a new trainer.

Enjoy the process! Learning with your pooch is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your best pal.

Level up your dog training skills at FetchFind Academy

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

We’re halfway through Essential Training Skills here at FetchFind Academy, and this was the scene in our classroom the other day:

Essentials 1
I mean, honestly – how can you not love a class staffed by Golden Retrievers?

Essentials is where we really start to train dog trainers – everything they learned in Behavior Fundamentals Online is taken apart, examined minutely, expanded upon, and put into hands-on practice. This is where all of that theory starts to make sense in the real world, and where our students start to become professional dog trainers.

After two more months of practice and projects, our Essentials students will move on to Advanced Training Skills. This is where they will do a deep dive into working with people as well as animals, via a wide range of internships and simulated situations. At the end of four months, they’ll be ready to start their careers as highly sought-after professional dog trainers. We have FetchFind Academy graduates in the top dog training companies, social welfare/therapy/humane education organizations, and rescues/shelters in the Chicago area and beyond (including AnimalSense, Paradise 4 Paws, Anything is Pawzible, Canine Therapy Corps, Pet Partners, Soggy Paws, Hawk City K9, Chicago Animal Care and Control, Safe Humane Chicago, The Anti-Cruelty Society, ALIVE Rescue, One Tail at a Time, All Terrain Canine, and Touch Dog Training). It’s almost impossible to overstate how many doors are open for people with top quality professional education and training – you can work for established companies, join a start up, or start your own business.

Advanced Training Skills is also a fantastic stand-alone program for dog trainers who want to level up their skills and pick up CEUs.

No matter where you originally trained, it’s always a sound career investment to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date. (If you’d like to learn more about joining us for Advanced Training Skills in August, please contact Lynda Lobo at lynda@fetchfind.com.)

If you want to become a dog trainer, we recommend starting with Behavior Fundamentals Online – at only $49, it’s a great way to get your paws wet. And if you ever have any questions about how you can get started in any area of the pet industry, just shoot us an email at hello@fetchfind.com – we’re always happy to help!

 

Got the 9-to-5 blues? We have the solution!

ff-academy

If you’ve taken Behavior Fundamentals Online, you already have a great foundation in canine behavior, communication, breeds, and evolution. If Fundamentals has whetted your appetite for all things dog and you want to learn more – or even ditch the cubicle and change your career – then FetchFind Academy is the logical next step!

FetchFind Academy is an eight month long, in-person training program that will teach you everything you need to learn to become a dog trainer. Our graduates are highly sought after for professional positions throughout the pet industry. The program consists of two, 4-month long sessions – Essential Training Skills and Advanced Training Skills.

Essential Training Skills

This is where we really start digging into topics such as associative learning, canine intelligence and emotion, classical and operant conditioning, anxiety and arousal thresholds, and nuisance behaviors. On top of that, you’ll begin to learn the basics of positive training (that’s where it really gets fun)!

During the four months of Essentials, you’ll have one instructor – the excellent Betsy Lane, founder of PetKiDo (pictured above, bottom row center, with the 2016 Academy class). This single instructor format promotes a sense of intimacy and camaraderie with your fellow students that lasts long after class work is over. This is where you start to build your network; these will always be the peeps who knew you when you were first starting out as a trainer, and it’s a valuable, lifelong bond.

Dates: Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9:30 pm, April 18 to August 8

  • Prerequisite:
 Behavior Fundamentals Online and placement exam
  • Program length:
 4 months
 / 
120 hours
  • Time spent:
 50% classroom
, 50% hands on
  • Apply here.

Advanced Training Skills

After you’re done with Essentials, graduates can move on to Advanced Training Skills. (If you’re already a dog trainer and want to further your career and hone your skill set, you can sign up for Advanced after passing a placement exam.) This program is a very hands-on, and includes many simulated and actual situations that face dog trainers today so that you can work through solutions with the guidance of our team of expert instructors and veteran dog trainers. You will learn how to create treatment plans, interact with clients. and identify all types of behavioral issues, including fear, anxiety, and aggression.

Dates: Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9:30 pm, August 15 to December 5

  • Prerequisite:
 Essential Training Skills or placement exam
  • Program length:
 4 months
 / 
65 hours
  • Time spent:
 25% classroom
, 75% hands on
  • Apply here.

We hope you’ll join us!  If you have any questions about the program, please contact Lynda Lobo at lynda@fetchfind.com.

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The first step to becoming a dog trainer is signing up for Behavior Fundamentals Online. It’s only $49, and throughout the month of February we’ll donate half the purchase price to Best Friends Animal Society! 

“Can you fix my dog?”

datingBy Bill Mayeroff

When people learned I was studying to become a dog trainer, they normally responded in one of two ways:

“Oh, so you’re, like, teaching dogs to sit and stuff? That’s easy. Why do you need to study it?”

“That’s awesome! Hey, so my dog does [insert undesirable behavior]. Can you tell me how to fix it?”

Neither of those responses is malicious, even if they’re annoying. They’re just the result of a lack of knowledge. People don’t realize that dog trainers have worked and studied hard to get where they are. 

Let me give you an idea of how hard I and my classmates worked. During our time studying at FetchFind Academy, we spent a grand total of 120 hours – three hours a week over a total of 40 weeks – in the classroom. On top of that, there were thousands of pages of reading/other homework. There were the externships and outside observations; I’m not even going to try and calculate the total number of hours that entailed. There were tests and quizzes, along with the associated studying. There were video projects to create and papers to write. 

Long story short – we worked our butts off. And we’re still working. We’re building careers, we’re always trying to improve our skills and become the best trainers we can be. 

But people don’t always see training as a “real” career and as a result, they think that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask us to come up with a training program for their dog with little to no information and without offering any form of compensation. 

It happens almost as soon as people learn you’ve started training or even that you’re studying to become a trainer. And people will use any avenue they can to try and get free training advice out of you. 

Here’s a story for you. Being the busy, single guy I am, I use a few different dating apps to attempt to have some sort of romantic life. When I put on my profiles that I train dogs, the number of messages I got drastically increased. But it wasn’t people interested in dating me. Rather, it was people who wanted me to “fix” their dogs and not charge them. 

I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. One person even sent me a message that said simply “I need help training my puppy!” She didn’t respond when I said I was happy to try but needed more information and then told her my rate. Most people, in fact, just disappeared when I made any mention of more information or compensation.

Such requests are tough for me (and I imagine for other trainers, as well). I love training dogs and I want to be able to help as many dogs as I can. Plus, I love TALKING about training. So I’m always inclined to try to help. 

But one of the most important things I was taught at FetchFind is that I’m a professional, my time is valuable and I deserve compensation for it. I have to keep that, along with the fact that most people don’t realize how much work I and my fellow FetchFind alums put in, in mind when I get requests for free advice. 

Above all, I need to make sure I always have some of my business cards on hand.

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Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter. He recently graduated from FetchFind Academy and is a Junior Trainer at AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

Graduation means the real work starts now

bill-and-mo

By Bill Mayeroff

It’s over.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. On Dec. 1, 2016, I took my last FetchFind Academy exam. It was a three-hour marathon that included essay, multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions, as well as a 30-minute oral exam to demonstrate some of the training skills we’ve learned. When it was over, I was exhausted, my brain felt like a puddle of goo and I could have slept for days. But I felt good about it. I was confident and happy. I’m still both of those things.

The band Semisonic probably said it best in their 1998 hit “Closing Time”: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” My shame at using Semisonic lyrics aside, they were right. My final exam last week marks the end of an experience that began when I walked into the first Behavior Fundamentals class in October 2015. But as it marks the end of one thing, it marks the beginning of another – my life as a dog trainer.

What it means is that now is when I really have to kick my career up to 11 (any This is Spinal Tap fans here reading this?). Without classes, I have to refocus all the energy and time I spent studying (and believe me when I say I studied harder for my FetchFind classes than I ever did in high school or college) on getting my career off the ground. 

It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s probably going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m going to have to bust my ample butt like I have never done before. But I am confident as I have never been confident before that it’s going to be worth it. 

This is what I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m ready to start doing it full-time. 

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Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter. He recently graduated from FetchFind Academy and is a part-time professional dog trainer. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

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Want to start YOUR career as a dog trainer (or just learn more about dogs)? Behavior Fundamentals is available for the entire month of December for only $49! Bonus: half of your purchase price goes to support Best Friends Animal Society. 

Dog training, expectations and me

dog-training-expectations-and-me

By Bill Mayeroff

When I started on my FetchFind Academy journey a bit over a year ago, I was pretty excited. I was going to learn everything about dogs and dog behavior and become a great dog trainer and every day of my life would be amazing because all I’d be doing would be training dogs.

I bored my friends to tears talking about it at first. But I just couldn’t stop myself. I was so excited that I had to talk about dog training all the time.

But as I went through the program, I began to wonder if I hadn’t built up dog training to mythical proportions. Was I getting too excited? Would all my initial excitement eventually lead to horrible disappointment that would cause me to (again) reevaluate what I was doing with my life? Could dog training really live up to the expectations I had built up in my head?

Well, friends, I can safely say that the answer is yes. Yes, dog training has and continues to live up to every expectation I’ve had. It’s been challenging. It’s been hard. It’s been fulfilling. It’s been amazing.

Two recent class sessions were spent with each student leading portions of a mock group class. That, folks, was as challenging as anything I’ve ever done. I had to teach a group of dogs some behaviors and talk authoritatively to them about dog behavior. I was a nervous wreck, but my teachers said it didn’t show. And when I was done, it felt fantastic.

That’s when I realized that dog training was indeed living up to the expectations I had created for it. Since I started at FetchFind, all I wanted was to be like the amazing trainers I got to see and learn from every week. I wanted to do the thing they do every day. And there I was, doing it in front of them and doing it well.

That’s a pretty cool feeling. And now that I’ve had it – and now that I have a little experience teaching a private client – I can safely say that it does not dissipate the more I do it. In fact, the more I actually train dogs, the more amazing it feels and the more I know it’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. 

So here I am. I finish the FetchFind Academy program in a few short weeks. It’s becoming real, guys. And for the first time in a while, I’m excited, rather than terrified, for what my near future has in store. 

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Start your own dog training journey with Behavior Fundamentals Online!

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Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter while he studies to be a professional dog trainer at FetchFind Academy. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups. 

3 ways to get your dream job working with pets

 

doberman woman

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I like to describe myself as “the luckiest person in the world”. Why is that? (you may be asking yourself). It’s because I get to work with pets (and pet people) every day of my life. If it’s your dream to work with them, too, there’s probably never been a better time to make that career shift. In 2016 the pet industry was worth over $64B, and it’s on track to be over $92B by 2019 – that’s a lot of kibble!

Here are a few good ways to test the waters before taking that leap:

Educate yourself.  With the growing popularity of online education, it’s easier than ever to get a good basic foundation in fields as diverse as canine behavior, business administration and equine husbandry. Check out resources like FetchFind, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and dog*tec.

Become a volunteer. Volunteering at a local shelter or animal advocacy group is probably the single best way to prepare yourself for a career working with animals. You’ll get lots of hand-on experience, and see if you really enjoy the work. At large shelters, you can volunteer in areas such as dog and cat care, veterinary clinic, marketing, fostering and public relations. Advocacy groups often need researchers, marketers and lawyers, so if you already have those skills you can gain valuable industry-specific experience.

Apply for an internship. If you want to take a more formal approach to learning about the pet industry from the ground up, considering applying for an internship. Many established companies, as well as small startups, offer both paid and unpaid internships in areas such as dog training, grant proposal writing, and social media. One of the great things about internships is that if you like the company, you’ve already got an “in” for a regular job. And, at the very least, you will have gained a portfolio of skills, contacts, and references that can help you later on.

How did you get your start in the pet industry? Let us know in the comments!