While Home Instead of Alone, Inc. has only been in business since 2008, I have been working with dogs in one capacity or another since I was 12 years old (I am now 50). I started the boarding aspect of this business because I realized early on that many dog owners had very little choice when it came to boarding their dogs when they went away. They either had the option of a vet - which was the best option of the three choices, because at least there was a medical team on hand if your dog got sick, but the chances of your dog getting sick in that environment was much greater. The second option was a kennel, but that meant the crew goes home and the doors close from 8 or 9 pm until the morning, so if there was a problem overnight, no one was there to supervise.... and the dog spent the entire day in a cage. Or the third option was in someone's home. The negative about this option is while a person willing to do this usually does love the dogs, they are not professionals, and therefore were not aware of all the steps it took to keep a dog safe at all times. And if a fight broke out, they did not know what to do, and lastly, these are not legal, insured, and bonded places, so you were taking a very big risk having your dog there.
Seeing so few options out there for dog owners, I worked to create a very safe environment in my home, where I, as a professional dog trainer and also an Ambassador Member of the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals) am in charge at all times. I have spent many years and quite a bit of money to learn the most advanced and up-to-date methods of training to bring to my clients, as well extensive knowledge on keeping every dog in my care safe. We may be a cage-free facility, but it is NEVER a free-for-all around here. I have been a professional trainer long enough to know it takes only a matter of seconds for everything to go ‘south’, and years to fix it! I am not willing to allow that on my watch. I keep my numbers small, which enables the dogs to get carefully supervised safe interactions with each other, as well as plenty of one-on-one attention from me. They may be your babies when they are in your home, but when they are here.... they are mine!
As far as my training modalities, I consider myself a very balanced trainer. What does that mean for you? It means I have extensive knowledge of ALL training modalities, and I make sure they are always used in a safe and humane manner.
I listen to what you, my customer, have to say, and we work out a plan together to help your dog be the best he or she can be. Who else knows your dog better than you do?
I do not profess to know it all.... I am always growing and learning.... and often, it is the dogs who teach me new things all the time! But the biggest advantage of being a member of a wonderful organization like the IACP is that any time a question comes up that I am not sure the answer to, I do not have to make up an answer.... I have thousands of trainers from all over the world at my fingertips that I can contact and ask for help at any given time.
And lastly, I will say that I cannot compete with some of these larger facilities.... but the truth is, I would not wat to!! I like being a small personalized company. If I build a rapport with you over the phone.... why would I then send a stranger to your house to help you train your dog? When you start with me, you finish with me. I am in it for the long haul. And after our sessions, I am available throughout the rest of the week for phone calls to answer any questions that come up regarding what we did during our last session together. This is probably why many of my clients have become very close personal friends over the years!
I love that each dog and each family is so different. I have ADHD, and I tend to get bored very easily, so doing the same thing repeatedly would not be ideal for me! With dog training, you can have 10 dogs, all the same breed, and quickly find you must work qwith each and every one of them a bit differently.
I love challenges. That is probably why I am one of the few dog trainers that is willing to housebreak puppies. Many do not want to do this. It takes a lot of time and energy and work. But to me, it offers the greatest reward when successfully completed! Over the years, I have successfully housebroken thousands of pups as well as full grown dogs.
I am also one of the few trainers that enjoy working with kids. Adults tend to take things at face value.... kids ask the 'why' of it.... and I love that! Because I feel in general when we understand WHY we do what we do, it makes it easier to follow through! And there IS a reason for everything we do!
I also love that dog training is not just about training the dog! It is about so much more than that! It is understanding the dynamics of the family and figuring out the best way to work with each family member so each member can get the most out of their relationship with their dog(s).
An added bonus? Because of my ADHD, my attention span is not that much longer than the pups or the kids, so I tend to work very well with them! If I am getting bored, I know they are too!!
And as I am sure you have surmised by now; I use a lot of humor in my training! Puppy and dog training is supposed to be fun!
I also use many analogies (age appropriate, of course) to ensure that the kids and the adults have a deep understanding of what it is I am explaining to them.
Not many people in this world are as lucky as I am…. I get to do something I thoroughly enjoy and am passionate about and get paid for it!! I have successfully turned my favorite hobby into a wonderful career.
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First I listen. I understand very well that by the time a person calls in a professional, they are frustrated! I heard something a long time ago that really made an impact on me:
"Customers don't care how much you know....
Until they know how much you care."
This is very true in my line of business. Sometimes people just needs to be heard! While they are talking, I jot down some notes.... their name, the breed of dog they have, how old it is, when they got it, what they have tried, etc.
Next, I ask them some questions... what tools have you used so far? Has anything you tried worked t all? How many people are in your family that have responsibility over or interact with your dog? Are you using a crate? Do you have the pup/dog on a schedule? Are there any kids in the house? What is their relationship like with the dog? Have you ever had a dog before?
Next thing I do is to make sure they understand that they are not alone! Others have gone through this before, and I have been able to help them. I make some observations, give them some explanations as to some of the things that might be going on, we talk a bit about the dogs medical history, and recent changes in the home, etc.
Then we start to formulate a game plan....I offer some ideas I think will help them with the specific issues they are going through. Then I ask what their availability is, and I explain my different programs and rates, and what I suggest for them. But I do not believe in a 'hard sell'. Usually I have by this time been on the phone for a half hour to 45 minutes, I explain what I can help them accomplish, and also that it is very important that everyone in the family be there for the first appointment. Then, if they are ready, we book the appointment.