The pet industry is one of the most unregulated industries in the US. When you hire a plumber or an electrician you make sure they are qualified for the job. You check their legal status and contractor number to ensure you are getting a professional that knows what they are doing. At least it is a start. If they are good that still needs to be determined but at least you know they are bound to a certain standard. You wouldn’t want to deal with a leak or a fire destroying your house when the professional doesn’t end up to be one? When it comes to having someone take care of your dog. Do you care?
Dog care providers come in all varieties. Most dog care providers do not have any formal training. They can call themselves professional dog walker, sitter and even trainer the moment they start their business. A website is set up within minutes even for those who are not tech savvy at all.
“If you set such high standards for any other professional why not for a dog professional?”
In 2013 people spent $55 billion dollars on their pets. It is a growing market and an easy one to get started in. With almost no capital someone can enter the business world of dogs. The “about me” or “bio” page of websites often give the biggest clue of whether or not you are dealing with a professional. Some business owners are smart with words and entangle the potential client into believing they are the best. It is simple. Cut through the “rubbish” and look for “education and/or accreditation”. THAT is what counts. Is it really not enough if they have “always” been dog lovers, have been trained in Search And Rescue, are a natural talent working with dogs ” Ask yourself the question: have they been trained to do the job? Would you visit a vet that has those words on their website? The best one ever is: “dog lover who speaks their language.” First of all there is not one who speaks their language or knows what dogs think. You have professionals that are highly trained, who can identify behavior and work with a dog on a level beyond basic training. Speak their language? Know what they are thinking? That is only possible in movies and it is called fiction not science!
Dogs are continuous learners. Behaviors can change when exposed to the wrong environment. Any dog professional should attend seminars and trainings to keep themselves educated in the field. Otherwise the word professional should not be used. The definition of a professional is: “a person engaged or qualified in a profession.” A profession is defined as: “a paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.” (-Google.com)
“How is it that consumers turn a blind eye when it comes to the pet industry?”
Maureen Holt, co-founder of Dog Connect SF and owner of Mutt About Town Dog Training, just wrote a great article about the big myths in the dog world especially in dog training. “The Power of Letters“, referring to certifications and what they really mean. As Maureen Holt says: “We endeavor to achieve education, to adhere to a code of ethics and to pursue continuing education in the field.” We are only a few and we are often not more expensive then those with no education. Especially when it comes to behavior modification dog owners “deserve real science, competent practitioners, and a mutually agreed upon ethos to use the least aversive methods possible.”
If you need a guideline on how to hire a professional read our blog: “Hiring a dog professional” . The message is clear. Provide your dog with the best care and the best education. Hire educated professionals who use force free methods based on animal learning. You owe it to your dog!
Nathalie Mosbach is the owner of Beyond Companions LLC. K9Consultant, The Dog Hikers and pawDOGraphy are a few of her successful businesses.