Why I Enjoy Teaching People to Train Their Dogs


Bev Maahs KPACTP

I had the opportunity today to see a friend whom I stayed with during my KPA workshops that I had not seen in a while. We had a chat about how long ago it was since I did the KPA, which is 3 years ago in May.  Between teaching foundation classes, she asked me,”What was it I liked best about teaching.”

“Diversity” I replied.

She said.. “dogs or people?”

“Both” I replied…”it is always new!”

Each client and dog are individuals and each one of them has a different set of likes and preferences.  Some dogs don’t like to down, some don’t like to sit for long. Each time you have to come up with a solution that works for the dog and owner. Clicker training, when done correctly is an art, a science and a mechanical skill.

IMG_0565Timing is everything! If you click to soon, or too late, it affects your training. I have many types and ages of students but one that comes to mind is an older man, in my classes, who is in his late 60’s early 70’s with a little dog. To begin with his clicker mechanical skills were really bad – his timing was not good , he tended to yank the leash, and really having a hard time learning. With patient coaching, he is much better, his timing is better, and he is seeing results with his little dog! He came 3 times a week to class and by week 8 of 10 he completed 23 out 29  levels with his dog which is passing!  Today, his little dog came off leash, in a class with 3 other dogs.  His recall was wonderful and I was even able to film it to share with my colleagues!

The cool thing is that modern dog training works, every time, when applied properly and even if not completely accurately like this client.  The dog and the owner learned, they loved coming to class, and they built a better relationship with each other.

Force free training works,  whether you use a clicker or not, it proves itself every week right in front of me!

It certainly seemed like a daunting task. As an instructor, I started with teaching small steps towards the goal behaviors. Dog training is about training people and coaching them on how to build that great relationship with their dog. The really cool thing is that anyone can learn to train their own dog without force, if they have the desire to do so!

People ask, “Is clicker training a method or a philosophy?”  I think it is a choice, I choose to train force free and use a clicker because it works, it is proven to work and is supported by science. Training dogs and people should be positive for both learners. Even when teaching people, remember to give feedback when they do something right!

What are some resources you’d recommend to someone looking to improve their teaching skills? (Comment below!)