Hey guys how are you doing? I hope you are still learning new stuff from the blog, it's been a tiring year as I had been juggling between working and studying at the same time, as well as making plans for our new boarding facility.
As you have probably learned from the title, I was studying to become a certified trainer! If you've followed the blog, you should know that I would never encourage aspiring trainers to take on certification, reason being that 1) it doesn't reflect on a person's credibility when it comes to subjects like this, and 2) certification can also be used as a shield to defend and/or promote a trainer's reputation even if what he/he does is unethical.
Well in this post I am going to share my journey, the ups and downs and also my view on dog training certification after experiencing it in person. As usual, I'm not going to be sharing names as this is not a post about reviews, but my personal journey.
Why I decided to take on training course
I've been handling dogs and animals for more than 15 years to date and all these experiences were contributed by veterans, books and a huge portion from hands on experience. I come from a traditional family and as you can see, the start of my journey on dog training was not easy, I had to learn from mistakes and much perseverance was needed to reach where I am today. All was well until recently, I started to feel like I'm not improving anymore - the behavior of the dogs I handled are expected and the best solution could be planned out with ease, I also got better at explaining theories to owners.
However, I was still eager to learn and hoped there was something out there that can feed my hunger to learn. I then stumbled onto a website where I could learn practical skills as a trainer and becoming certified at the same time. I did not want to just sign up for a $100 course then learn nothing and calling myself certified, I was willing to invest. After some research I thought this was it, I've finally found something that can help me learn more. I found a well known school that do not discriminate the methods used as stated in their summary, or so I thought.
My journey began
I was doing really well with Amber and followed their instructions even if it wasn't to my beliefs, I wanted to know how far I could go and just learn as much as possible. Our heeling practice was great, recalling and leaving Amber alone had no issues either, we progressed and reached the point where she could be handled during grooming in accordance to the requirements.
All was well until a point, I was instructed to train Amber not to react when strangers were touching her. She failed miserably. Everyone that had met Amber would know that she is a very friendly dog and loves people no matter the race, age or size. We purposely trained her to be friendly to human touch since young. However, the instruction for this obstacle was against what was taught to her, which meant that Amber should learn to resist and control herself when humans try to touch her.
I did not complain and tried my best to go according to the instructions, she kind of 'improved' 2 weeks into training, in a way Amber started to divert her attention onto the treats in my hands. Due to her excitement from the strangers, she'd whine and chomp on the treats, I'd see her getting really happy when strangers approach, then remembered she shouldn't reach out to them, it was kinda heartbreaking. So, I decided to give myself a bit more time to consider, and finally after a week, I decided to cease training.
I do not think that there's wrong or right to this, but in my opinion, my dog is not a robot, she is a being with a mind of its own. Amber would not just rush and paw onto random strangers, she'd only do that when strangers approach her in happy tone and stroke her. Not once have I seen her doing it on people that are afraid of dogs, especially not muslims, she has very good reading skills and she knows if an individual is welcoming or avoiding her. I always believe in training for the sake of safety first, then fun comes second and last would be extra stuff like additional commands. So in this case, training Amber not to react to stranger's touch is not even close to keeping her safe, therefore this would always be placed last in my list.
I can even proudly say that many people love her friendliness when they approach her. "Wow so happy", "your girl is so friendly", "she's really active", this is what I expect and want people to feel, my dog is not a therapy dog, nor is she going to be participating in competitions, I just want her to be safe and happy.
Through this experience i've definitely learned something new and i appreciate it, no certificate? No worries. I believe my journey is not going to end this early. Do stay tune for part 2!