AITA or is my dog trainer?
In my decade plus career as a dog trainer, I have encountered people in this profession of all stripes - the best of the best, people who are so competent and intelligent that I am cowed, some of the best people on the planet. And then there's the other kind of dog trainer.
The kind whose favorite kind of client are "those they never hear from again".
People who charge families of children with disabilities $400 a month for service dog training after a $7000 (nonrefundable of course) deposit and blame their failure to produce results on the fact the chosen dog is a collie - you know, the breed of dog used so extensively as highly trained working dogs (the iconic dog equated with obedience is Lassie, a collie. )
If I listed all of the egregious examples of dog trainer assholery here, this would be a book with several (very entertaining) chapters.
We won't go into all of the examples, but instead how you can recognize the assholes and avoid getting taken advantage of by them.
Caveats: this requires you to be a good student and do your homework. My job as a trainer is not to train your dog. My job is to teach you how to train your dog. If you aren't a good student you will fail even under the tutelage of the most skilled dog trainers in the world (and I've met a few of those).
Your dog trainer requires a significant upfront monetary contribution just to talk to them. Plenty of trainers require a small consultation fee, but it shouldn't be the cost of a set of private lessons or a group class elsewhere. Typically what will happen here is the trainer will refuse to work with the dog for (x reasons) and pocket the consultation fee, under no obligation to do anything with you.
Your dog trainer doesn't freely answer questions and avoids contacts
This is in direct contradiction to their job. Their job is to answer questions.
Your dog trainer won't let you see where the dogs are kept
This is a big red flag, anyody keeping care of your animals should be transparent about where and how they're kept, and should field questions about their care very easily.
Your dog trainer blames you or your dog for your lack of progress even though you have done your homework and followed their instructions
A favorite tactic is gaslighting you on how hard you've worked and claiming you aren't doing things correctly. A good way to recognize if this is happening is that the dog trainer cannot handle your dog either when they have their hands to the leash.
The dog trainer won't handle your dog and also won't instruct you with great detail how to handle your dog repeatedly
Dog training is a physical skill. You should see real evidence of your trainer's skill with your dog and their dogs.
The dog trainer can't or won't explain why they want you to do things a certain way. "Because I said so" isn't an acceptable reason.
Good dog training is comparable to a martial art and has a process, direction, and method that is replicable - thus it is science in the true definition of the term. It is also an art. The best dog trainers are VISIBLY skilled.
In addition to good trainers doing the opposite of the above list, good trainers should be sympathetic, competent, calm, and professional.
Good dog trainers are also often grumpy sonsof81tch3s, sometimes short, demanding, and meticulous. Know that they are this way because they love you and want you to succeed.
The best dog trainers aren't doing this because it's a job or because they can work the system to become monetarily successful, they are doing it because they are dedicants to the promise between man and dog.
We do this because we honor our dog sisters and want them to live better lives with man.
We do this because we want our families and communities to be safe and happy.
We do this because we love it.