Why I Give Free Dog Training Advice

Posted on November 14th, 2017 by FetchMasters in Behavior Modification

People sometimes call my company hoping to get some free dog training advice. It is interesting for me to observe how my own attitudes towards giving free advice has changed over time. When first starting my dog training career, I considered my dog training knowledge to be my stock in trade. After all, obtaining that knowledge had been expensive and required lots of hard work. Why should I just give it away for free?

So, understandably, I would become annoyed when people tried to pry me over the phone during a sales inquiry for free dog training advice. After all, my time was valuable, and I had bills to pay.

But nowadays I rarely give callers opportunity to ask for free advice. I just offer it in an organic way as opportunity arises. So, what changed?

For one thing, I really enjoy getting to know people and geeking out about dog training with them.

But also, I have come to realize that dog training tasks falls into (at least) three categories:

  1. There are dog training tasks that do not require the presence of a trainer. I would prefer not to dispatch a trainer to a client’s home for something that I can easily explain in a few minutes on the phone. For example, with only a few exceptions, house training a dog is easy to do and requires very little skill on the part of the client. I would much rather send a client our house training protocol and spend five minutes walking them through it over the phone than spend an hours bogged down in Denver, Colorado, traffic and in addition to an hour at the clients’ home to accomplish the same result. Crate training is another issue that most owners can do on their own without the presence of a trainer; simple instructions over the phone will suffice in most cases. So, if it saves me time and saves the client money, I’m all for it.
  2. Training tasks clients can do on their own to help me troubleshoot a problem. Usually, I can figure out the exact cause of a dog’s behavior problems over the phone by asking the right questions. But sometimes I cannot, and in those cases it sometimes makes more sense to have the client make some initial observations or run some easy experiments. If one of my suggestions solves the problem, great! Time saved, money saved! If not, then the problem likely is complex enough for me to justify the time and expense of sending a professional trainer to solve the problem. And clients usually are thankful that I tried to rule out some things before embarking on a for-pay training plan, as doing so makes the whole in-home training process more efficient.
  3. Things that require a professional trainer’s expertise. Just like there are things it makes sense to have done by an accountant, an electrician or a mechanic, there are dog training tasks that are most easily accomplished with the help of a professional trainer. Some training scenarios require technique, finesse, patience, the modeling of proper body mechanics, correct demeanor, trouble-shooting ability, modifying the relationship between the dog and owner, and a more complex understanding of dog behavior. I have spent years acquiring the ability to succeed in such scenarios, and I cannot see the average client being able to efficiently succeed in reaching certain training goals without the assistance of a professional, skilled dog trainer.

For the first two categories, providing the client with free dog training advice is often better both for them and for me. It saves them money, and it allows me more time to do the things in category three, where my presence is needed the most.

Finally, I feel that giving out dog training advice over the phone accomplishes some important things beyond saving time and money:

  • It allows me to make a difference in the lives of people with simple dog training needs who might not be otherwise able to afford my services.
  • It creates goodwill and referrals for future business.
  • It allows me to focus heavily on my specialties, and the kinds of work that challenges me the most, while not neglecting the needs of those who just need a little helping hand.