Do you provide a guarantee for dog-training? If you do, here is some information to consider before making any more promises. There are some things you can guarantee for dog training and other things you should never guarantee. Let’s begin with the part where you should not provide a guarantee for dog-training. Never provide a guarantee for dog-training when you cannot control the outcome. When it comes to dog-training, the owner’s level of commitment to the program determines the outcome. This relates to in-home training, as well as, board-and-train programs. Ultimately, you are there to teach the dog and train the clients. No amount of work on your part will guarantee the owner will follow through with the training or use the new skillset you taught.
A dog owner who is a quick study, totally committed and has some past dog experience will complete their training quicker than a first time dog owner or a dog owner who works 60 hours a week and is struggling to keep all the balls in the air. No matter how committed dog owners are when they sign up for dog training, they sometimes fail to dedicate the time required to train their dog. Naturally, that affects the outcome.
To increase the client’s success rate, you should keep in mind that you train dogs on a daily basis, your clients are starting at day one. They are learning something new at every lesson. That includes clients who have read dog training books and watched countless videos online. Those resources are not giving them the full picture. There are so many aspects to dog training that dog owners just don’t know. Those aspects go far beyond repetition and consistency.
When you provide a guarantee for dog training, you are not helping the dog’s case.
Every so often a prospective client will ask us to guarantee dog training outcomes during the evaluation. When this happens, tell them you will help by teaching the required skills, but ultimately, the outcome determines their constant commitment to the dog-training program. Alternatively, if after meeting a prospective client, you conclude that you cannot solve their problems, it is okay to decline the job and tell them that you are not the best trainer for them. People respect honesty.
Another problem with providing a guarantee for dog training is that you are not helping the dog’s case. Let’s say hiring a dog trainer is the final straw for your client. If you provide a guarantee that you can train the dog in “x” amount of weeks, but cannot solve the issues in the promised time frame, the dog will lose its home. This failed promise may confirm the family’s belief that the dog is broken or not intelligent enough to succeed. This broken guarantee could leave your client’s dog behind bars in a shelter.
In the meantime, different techniques or additional time may be required for that particular dog. Just because one dog can overcome reactivity in a handful of weeks doesn’t mean the next dog will improve just as quickly.
The Problem Is Not The Dog
The problem is not always the dog. Many times the human is at fault. Their leash handling skills, timing, lack of practice or temperament may hold them back. It can be as simple as the dog owner is unwilling to change their old techniques, even though those techniques haven’t worked for them.
There are times you will teach a dog owner commands and provide information on changing behavior, then return two weeks later and find they have not followed a single lesson you taught them. Instead, they follow advice of their groomer, friend or family member.
In each case, the problem is not the dog. The dog owner is the one in need of additional work. We do not keep that aspect of dog training a secret. We find a polite way of telling the owner that “it’s you and not the dog.”
Code of Ethics Concerning Trainers Providing a Guarantee to Dog-Training Clients.
Many dog training associations make their members sign a code of ethics which includes language against providing a guarantee to your dog training clients. Members of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers must “refrain from providing guarantees regarding the specific outcome of training and behavior plans.”
When it is Okay to Provide A Guarantee to dog training clients.
One type of acceptable guarantee is “stellar customer service.” Anyone who wants to stay in business will strive to keep clients happy. This is an easy guarantee. Should you slip up on your customer-service skills, apologize and make up for the inconvenience. Clients find this an admirable trait.
Another acceptable guarantee is your commitment to provide “customized training plans.” Dog trainers fix the dog in front of them. That means the training plan changes for each dog you train. If a client hires you to teach their dog to walk on a loose leash, you will teach the skills to achieve that goal. Not unrelated skills that you teach every single client.
These types of guarantees bring us back to our opening sentence. When you have control over the outcome, guarantees are okay.
Dogs and people learn differently and at different speeds. While there are universal commands, teaching those commands and working on behaviors will differ from one client to the next. Providing a dog-training guarantee is a gimmick and gimmicks do not train dogs. They only hurt your credibility.
Are there guarantees you offer your dog-training clients? We’d love to hear about them. You can write them below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Katie McKnight
Photo credits: Womanizer toys – Unsplash and Clark Tibbs – unsplash
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