How to avoid this common dog training mistake

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Learn how to avoid this common mistake among dog trainers and help more clients engage, focus and succeed.

Connecting with your clients on a meaningful and impactful level can mean the difference between that team achieving sustainable results or losing momentum and giving up.

Many, if not most dog trainers make the common mistake of pursuing dog training as a full time career as a way to escape industries like retail / hospitality or even corporate jobs due to undesirable interactions with people. The same people are often shocked to find out that the dog training industry is actually a heavily client-focused industry.

While we totally get the love for dogs, and that people are sometimes not the easiest to work with, our services and responsibilities as dog trainers are primarily focused on educating dog owners, who in turn work to educate their dogs. In most cases, we’re people trainers, in disguise as dog trainers. Whodathunkit. 

And in order to have the best impact on the lives of the teams we work with; we first need to be able to connect with the human end of the leash.

Put yourself in their shoes

As professional dog trainers and behaviour consultants, we know you’re aware that training dogs requires a combination of knowledge, patience and coordination. These skills weren’t developed overnight, and your clients often come from totally different backgrounds, experiences and views, from your own.

Putting yourself “in their shoes”, in order to better connect with your clients, especially while you’re in the learning phase about the relationship between dog and owner, can help to expedite the process of their learning and development in those areas, as well as in their relationship with their dog.

Your ability to empathise and see things from your clients point of view, shows them that you truly understand the problems they’re facing with their dog, and as a result, the best way to resolve them. By making the effort to actively listen to your clients concerns about their dogs behavior or other issues related to their dogs training, you position yourself with your client as someone they can rely on, more than just someone they’re paying to help fix a problem.

What could you gain?

Aside from drastically improving your clients success rates and client satisfaction – you’re also much more likely to be satisfied with your job and less likely to experience burnout. The more you connect with your clients in a meaningful way, the easier it will be to communicate with them about what and how things need to be done in order to achieve their goals.

Once you begin connecting and communicating more effectively with your clients, you’ll most likely begin receiving loads more word of mouth referrals, otherwise known as “earned marketing”. This is something that we like to call a “positive feedback loop”.

Dog trainers are also people trainers

You aren’t going to agree with everything your client says or does, and that’s where your ability to empathise, connect and communicate with them, comes into play. By considering your clients perspective, you increase the likelihood of being able to work through conflict and reach common ground and understanding.

Taking this approach on how you work with current and future clients, will also help you set an example for your clients of how to handle difficult situations, whether with family members also involved in the training process, with their dog, or even within themselves.

Finally, take the time to ask for feedback from your clients on how they feel their concerns or queries have been handled. Make the effort to continually improve your own interpersonal skills (emotional intelligence is a great place to start) and utilise management techniques and systems like The Pocket Dog Trainer, which allow you to make client communications easier to keep track of.