Always Get An In-home Consultation Before Training
Over the years as I’ve developed my business and reputation, my name and services have been found through many avenues. A common referral I get is through a veterinarian’s recommendation, as many vets hear from their clients about the training we’ve done, and many times, the vet will see the training results when the dog comes in for their next appointment. Clients have also told their family, friends, and maybe even the random person at the bar that was venting about their dog’s behavior to the bartender. A lot of people will also find me randomly, perhaps just googling “atlanta dog training”, finding my reviews on Yelp, or somewhere in one of the far corners of the internet and social media.
However a person finds out about me, they usually first end up giving me a call to begin the dog training conversation. Occasionally I might get an email or a message on Facebook (if you do the latter, I highly suggest emailing or calling via the information listed below, if you at least expect a swift and thorough response!), but typically folks will call and they will basically get a free “phone consultation” with me or my expert office staff that are highly trained and qualified to answer dog training inquiries. On the phone we will get a basic understanding on why you’re needing dog training, along with a little background info on your dog (ie: name, age, breed, any prior training, neutering/spaying, rescue dog or breeder dog, etc). Through this, we can determine what will be the best training program for you (ie: group class vs in-home, basic obedience or aggression training, etc.). However, before we enroll your dog in any training program or hand out any type of training plan for you and your dog, we then work toward scheduling an initial in-home behavior consultation between you and one of our trainers.
We believe that an in-home behavior consultation and assessment is absolutely necessary before moving forward with any dog training. While we do gather a lot of information during the initial phone call or e-mail we may receive from you, it still won’t be sufficient until a trainer meets you and your dog. Without the initial in-home consultation, it’s like finishing a puzzle but there’s a huge empty space in the center of the puzzle.
Why is the initial in-home consultation so important?
- First off, we want to meet you and your dog! How can we really know what’s going on with your dog if we haven’t met them yet? We also need to know how your dog is behaving both in and outside the home, which is why we meet at your home and we may even go for a short walk around the neighborhood, depending on what your dog’s issues may be. It’s also important to see how your dog behaves toward you and your family members. Are you demonstrating leadership for your dog, or is your dog head of the pack? This can enlighten your trainer on any changes YOU as the owner might need to make in order for your dog to succeed in behavior training.
- Along with your dog’s behavior toward their familiar environment and home, the trainer will also get a good idea on how your dog behaves toward a new person, especially in their territory. Will your dog greet me politely when I come into the home invited, or will they bark excessively and hyperactively jump all over me as you try to grab their collar for control? When I knock on the door, will your dog bark out of fear, and continue to demonstrate fearful behavior when they see me, whether it comes in the form of retreating or lunging toward me? Or will my simple presence distract your dog from obeying basic commands from you? This will prepare us more for when we want to incorporate more distraction or behavior trigger training for your dog down the road.
- When we speak on the phone with you about your dog’s problems, we learn what’s stressing you out and what you find to be the big issues in your dog’s behavior. Often times though, there are a lot of other things happening that you may not notice or even be aware of. For instance, I might get an owner that calls and says that their dog is “fine” except for their leash pulling. When I meet the dog, not only do I see leash pulling, but I see hyperactive behavior, such as running around and jumping all over the owner and me. I may also see that the dog won’t listen to the owner unless there’s food involved. I may also see that the dog knows the command “Sit” but not “Heel” or any other basic commands. And sure, maybe the owner might notice these behaviors, but maybe they might see that their problematic in the first place. When we want to create a custom training plan for you, we want to make sure we create a plan that will tackle the behaviors that are driving you crazy, but most of the time, we need to address other things that might be contributing to those major behavioral problems!
- Meeting you and your dog will allow the trainer to find the core of the bad behaviors. Most behaviors that people complain about their dog is usually a symptom of something else, such as anxiety or fear or just lack of structure (or a combination!). If we can get to the root of the problem and work toward eliminating that, then we have a better chance of reaching your training goals!
- And finally, this is an assessment…for everyone. The trainer comes to assess your dog, but they are also there to assess you and whether or not you might be willing or able to fully commit to dog training. It’s not about our trainers passing judgment or being condescending..we don’t do that at the initial in-home consultation! Instead, we ask questions about your dog’s behavior in conjunction with your lifestyle. We ask about any training you’ve done and what you’re comfortable doing. We paint a detailed picture on what the owner’s responsibilities will be in order to achieve behavioral success with their dog, so that owners know exactly what they’re getting into, and they can decide whether they want to do it or not. Any owner can train their dog, but they have to want it, no matter how much hard work it is or how much time it might take. And this consultation will allow owners to assess the trainer as well! We think we have the best Atlanta dog trainers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we might be the best fit for everyone. For example, if we get a client at a consultation talking about how they don’t want to really be involved in the handling and want the trainer to take complete responsibility with the training, then we’ll civily part ways and I’ll leave some board and train options for them to check out. Or if I have an owner that thinks calmly telling a dog “no” or setting boundaries is cruel, both owner and trainer are soon going to find out that they may not compatible for one another. We want to help everyone, but not everyone might want help from us…and that’s their choice and it’s okay!
These are just the select reasons why an initial in-home consultation is crucial prior to any dog training. If you have a trainer prescribing a training regimen, medication, or advising you to re-home or euthanize your dog without even meeting them…run far, far away! They don’t even fully know what your dog needs yet, so either insist on an in-home consultation, or find someone that is willing to dig deep and really learn about your dog’s behaviors.
To reach out to us for an initial in-home consultation, either e-mail us using our contact form, or call our office at 678.358.0658. We’ll provide a phone consultation and figure out the best day and time for our trainer to come meet you and your dog for an initial in-home assessment and consultation!