This is a very good question and one that I think about often.
I have had several different jobs over the years including working in an office, interior decorating and starting a dog walking and pet sitting business but I have found that training dogs is the most rewarding. I grew up with dogs but my parents were the ones who fed and walked our family pets. I just enjoyed playing with them.
It wasn’t until after I was married that we got our dog, Toby. Then one day when I was picking up some dog food, I was offered a job at our local Global Pet Food store in Scarborough that changed my life. A few months later, while working at the store, I met Trevor who was an experienced trainer and looking for an apprentice. By this time Toby was about 7 months old and, although we had already taken a basic obedience class with him, I was not enthusiastic about the training method we were taught which used a lot of treats. Trevor invited us to come out and watch one of his classes. We did and I was very impressed with the method he used which did not include using treats for every command. This was particularly important for us since Toby had food allergies. A week later I signed up for the apprenticeship program.
My apprenticeship involved going to group and private obedience classes with Trevor and ‘shadowing’ or watching him when he was teaching. I brought Toby to classes and joined the group to learn by doing. Toby, even as a puppy, learned very quickly since we were spending 3 to 4 hours a week in obedience classes plus practising at home. Then one day, about 3 months later, I was told that I would be teaching the 3 classes that day while Trevor supervised. Even though I was nervous, I felt confident and enthusiastic about what I was doing. Within 6 months, I was teaching classes on my own and Toby became my ‘demo’ dog, which was very exciting.
After completing my 300 hour apprenticeship, I taught obedience classes in Toronto, Scarborough and Brampton. In addition, I took a course in canine scent detection for bed bugs and worked with a dog owned by a Toronto based pest control company doing inspections in health care facilities, hotels and private homes. We moved to Hamilton in 2009 and I have been running obedience and agility classes at Shadowbrook Kennels in Binbrook since 2011. I also provide private in-home training for those who have dogs with behaviour issues.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet and work with other, more experienced trainers. Their knowledge and advice has been invaluable to me in running my own business.
I have now been training dogs for 13 years and still enjoy helping people to communicate with their dogs. Every dog is a new challenge whether they are puppies or rescue dogs. I also like having a job that allows me to by my own boss and control my time.
Dog trainers can come from many different backgrounds but we all have the same goal to help people understand and bond with their dogs.
Do you or someone you know have a passion for working with dogs? If so, please feel free to contact us.