Dear Dog Trainer, I See You

Dear Dog Trainer,

I see you.

I see you caring for everyone around you, sometimes forgetting to care for yourself. You're a caretaker, a teacher, a guiding light - sometimes a therapist - to your clients. You then go home and provide the same nurturing care to your own family and friends.

I see your tired eyes. You're up long nights researching the latest research in behavioral science and writing training plans for clients. You lay awake worrying about the dogs and their humans whose futures you feel personally responsible for. You wonder if you did everything right that day.

I see you on your bad days. The days when you wonder why you chose this career. Work with dogs, they said. It'll be fun, they said. But some days, it's not fun. It's frustrating and heartbreaking and sometimes it's downright unbearable. But you wake up the next morning, you get out of bed, and you do it all over again. Because it's not a career; it's a calling. But on those hard days, that doesn't make it any easier.


But here's what else I see.


I see you proving popular opinion wrong. "You can't train a reliable recall without an e-collar." "You can't get a dog to walk on a loose leash without corrections." "You won't have a well-mannered dog unless you assert your dominance over them." You hear these things often. And you prove them wrong daily. You may not feel that others see those shining successes. But I do. And your clients do. And the dogs you work with will never know the pain, fear, and confusion they'll never experience because their humans chose you as their trainer. And what a blessing that is.

I see you on your good days. I see the way that a successful training session lights up your face, and leads you on to fight another day. I see you remember, yet again, that the reason we fight for the least aversive training methods is because our training works, and it has lasting results. And though you may have seen those results time and time again, that feeling of accomplishment never loses its glow.

I see you changing lives. One client at a time, one dog at a time, you're changing lives. You're potentially saving lives. Even on days that didn't go exactly as planned, you chose to spend your waking hours helping others improve the quality of their lives. At the end of the day, science-based, modern dog training is a catalyst that positively changes the lives of the dogs and humans it touches. It is, at its core, changing animal behavior while doing no harm. And so are you.

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Positively Expert: Alex Andes

Alex Andes is the owner and head trainer of Peach on a Leash Dog Training & Behavior Services in Atlanta, GA.


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