In June 2016 I began training with David Scott of the Big Bear Canine School. This has truly been an enlightening experience as I've learned all about the intricacies of working with dogs. As many of his clients will testify, David is not the average dog trainer. He is what we would call a "dog whisperer". His approach is unique in that he communicates with dogs at the instinctual level. They respect and submit to him as he wins them over within just seconds or minutes of meeting them, and then resolves their problematic issues with swiftness and success, leaving many of their owners amazed. I've been able to learn much from his training as he has mentored me on the ins and outs of this business.
One of the most important things that I've learned is the difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviorist. A trainer is one who teaches dogs to do tricks, learn basic verbal obedience commands ("sit", "down", "stay", "come" etc.), successfully perform desired skills or perform in competitions, and so forth. A behaviorist, on the other hand, is one who resolves a dog's problematic issues by understanding dog psychology and relating to the dog according to its instinctual needs. A behaviorist will rehabilitate unbalanced dogs and remove their unwanted behavior through the proper combination of exercise, discipline and affection while providing leadership the dog trusts and respects, and train dog owners to do the same. While there are many good dog trainers in the world, there are very few behaviorists who know how to resolve all types of canine issues according to common sense dog psychology. I'm thankful that I came across David Scott and for the opportunity to study with him.
During this time of training I've had the privilege of learning how to be a dog behaviorist. Ive been able to accompany David to many different jobs and observe him work with many different dogs who had many different issues, in addition to hands-on activities that he has coached me through. These issues include dominance, overexcitement, jumping on people, begging, chewing up furniture, fear issues, pulling on the leash and lunging during walks, separation anxiety, bolting out the door, and aggression of all kinds, toward animals, other dogs and even toward humans. I've learned how to fix the dog's problems inside of client's homes in the dog's own territory and to train those clients to follow through by giving them a series of activities and homework assignments to perform. I've also learned how to socialize dogs properly with one another and to read canine body language as the dogs interact with their environment. I've learned how to interpret what the dog is thinking and to relate to it according to its own thought patterns. I've learned the importance of calm-assertive energy and body language in communicating with our canine friends as we have practiced it over and over and I've learned how to identify all the most common errors that people make when interacting with dogs and when trying to correct their dog's undesired behavior. And I've even learned how to exercise dogs properly and have gotten a taste of what it's like to be a professional dog walker!
While it is too much to keep count, I'm guessing we have worked with over 100 dogs or more during this training. Even though I've read a lot about canine psychology and dog training, it is this hands-on participation that has left me feeling equipped with the basic tools I need to begin my own career as a professional dog behaviorist. I still have much to learn but the personal mentoring and training I've received with David Scott has given me a substantial foundation upon which I can build for years to come!