As trainers, we should be working together.

Training is changing and I am pleased to report, for the better. There is now more emphasis on positive reinforcement, reward based training, understanding the dog's mind, and using body language to effectively communicate and train our dogs. Old fashioned and traditional training methods are slowly being phased out but unfortunately not all trainers can see the benefits of modern thinking, and still believe that harsh, punishment type training is a suitable way we should be educating our dogs.

I am a trainer that uses rewards, encourages positive training, and takes the time to understand how our canine's mind works. I enjoy sharing with others the knowledge I have gained and benefit from working with other like-minded trainers who can introduce me to new skills. You never stop learning when involved in training and behaviour, and it can only be good to share and discuss ideas with each other in order to improve ourselves professionally.

This is why it saddens me when some trainers in the business treat you like 'The enemy', a rival, and someone to be ignored and disparaged. I began my business in the busy county of Hampshire where Dog Trainers are abundant. As with any profession, there are a large variety of abilities and personalities, and we cannot all be expected to get along. I endeavored to contact a number of trainers in my area in order to establish some links and exchange ideas, and had some success. Not all were committed to my training ideals but at least I was able to swap ideas or recommend alternates if I was not able to assist a client due to time or distance.

I had my biggest disappointment when I relocated to Shropshire last September and had to start up my business again. I began advertising and networking with local vets and pet shops as I had done in Hampshire, and contacted some local trainers to introduce myself and to explore whether we could assist each other. It occurred to me that by making myself known, I would pose less of a threat and more of ally; by cooperating we could help each other if a client needed something that the other could offer. Unfortunately, by the end of this exercise I had only established good relations with one other trainer and one agility club. The remainder of nearly a dozen trainers either ignored my proposal, or stated that it could not possibly be in their interest.

I fully appreciate that times are difficult for most at the moment. Our country is desperately is trying to pull itself out of a recession, and due to insufficient finances many pet dog owners do not have training high on their list of priorities, and some are even abandoning the animals. So the work can be a little slow for some of us, but this must not be used as an excuse to continue the competition and animosity between rivals. Instead, we should be encouraging a relationship where we are able to pool our resources as colleagues within a supporting network. I believe that in our role as dog trainer and behaviourist, we are trusted to give a 100% professional service to help people achieve attainable goals with their dogs. This can be achieved as a community if we learn to trust one another, be unafraid to share opinions, to discuss methods and to try new techniques. If we all work together for the good of our dogs, it can only be a positive experience, and you never know what good friendships may be formed!

It is for these reasons that being invited to join this blog is a refreshing change and I am honored to be part of it. I hope that I will be able to pass on some new ideas that may be added to the trainers tool box, and look forward to reading about other aspects of our craft that I will help expand my own knowledge. So to all the trainers out there, lets start making a difference by working together to achieve our common goal - well behaved, trouble free dogs that are happy in their environment, and well informed, responsible owners that have a mutually pleasurable relationship with their animal.

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Positively Expert: Emma Collings

Emma Collings is a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer, an Associate Member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, and a Full Member of The Guild of Dog Trainers. She is the Founder and Head Trainer and Behavior Consultant of School for Paws, a dog training school in Shropshire, UK.


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