Selling Dr. Doolittle
A question was posed on a dog training forum about how we, as dog trainers, could teach the general public to be more critically minded when it came to choosing trainers. My immediate response was tinged with disbelief, how do dog trainers teach people critical thinking skills? Why should that be what we are spending our efforts on? Face it, most people come to us to help them get their dogs to stop barking at the neighbors, not how to sharpen their analytical skills. I understand the point of the question, but the answer, in my mind is not how to get pet owners to think about dog training, but to get them to buy what we’re selling. It is after all the American way isn’t it. And we’re not just trying to sell ice to Eskimos (or Native Alaskans) and we are selling more than just a way of life, we are selling a life, a life of freedom, respect and fun for dogs.
It is we my friends, all of you intimidation/force/coercion-free, reward based, positive reinforcement, often unbalanced trainers who, along with Paul Owens are the true Dog Whisperers. But we are also the Dog Singers, Crooners, Poets & Artists. We are the Dr. Doolittles of the world offering English as a second language classes to dogs and Berlitz courses on ‘dog speak’ to people.
We do not offer ‘secrets to training dogs’ or ‘guaranteed instant success’ to pet owners, we offer something more, we offer them the opportunity to become their dog’s best friend. To become the most special, anticipated, and loved person in someone’s world. Not content to only teach their dog to come when called, but to come with so much joy and enthusiasm that the owner’s brain will be flooded with so much oxytocin they won’t know what hit them. We won’t just show them how to get their dog to sit until told they can move, but to have their dogs wagging their tails eagerly awaiting ANY request made of them.
If someone can convince us we need to buy ‘quilted toilet paper’ there is no doubt in my mind that we can convince people that training without fear is the best way to go. And there will be no clean-up needed afterward.