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With a lot of hesitation, I left my head trainer position at a training facility after 10 years. I absolutely loved working with the dogs and teaching the owners. It was my life. I just thought there was more out there to learn. For 10 years I had only studied under one person, that being my boss. He did teach me a lot. The remote training collar was the main piece of equipment we used. We would use other tools on occasion as well if needed. As trainers, we all know we learn from each dog we work with. We will never know everything. There is always more to learn. I wanted to go out and see what other trainers were doing. I wanted to learn as much as I could.
So, I went to a few seminars and didn’t like what I was seeing. I didn’t agree with how they were introducing the remote training collar. I felt they were being extremely hard on the dogs. I watched as dog after dog shut down. I watched as trainers who had never worked with a remote training collar “started to learn how to use this piece of equipment”. It was completely mind boggling to me. The trainers actually thought it was ok and normal that these dogs were shutting down. I began getting frustrated and disappointed. I spent the last 10 years defending the remote training collar and now I knew why people were so hesitant to use it, because of trainers like this.
Just when I was about to give up as a dog trainer I was given the opportunity to work with Robin MacFarlane at That’s My Dog. As soon as we started working dogs, I could see immediately she was completely different than the other trainers. She was basically reteaching me how to use the remote training collar. Not only was she teaching me about the collar, but dogs in general. I was getting the dogs to listen to me, not just because I had a collar on the dog and I was forcing them to, but because they understood exactly what I wanted them to do and they were eager to do it.
I was pretty knowledgeable about dog behavior, but what I learned from Robin was eye opening. I have done a lot of behavior modification in my past but working with her showed me so many different ways to handle different situations. It’s not about forcing the dog to do things or not do things. She taught me how to open my eyes and look at what’s really going on with a dog.
One of the things I love the most about working with Robin was she treated each and every dog she worked with as if it were her own. She was never too hard on the dogs and they were never shut down. She was always fair. While spending time with her I was fortunate to work with all different types of dogs from playful puppies to fearful reactive dogs. So, I was able to see her change what she was doing from dog to dog. The amount of information I picked up in such a short period of time was unbelievable. From puppy preschool, to the big bad dogs, to fun things to do with your own personal dog. Plus nutrition, physical limitations, working with client….I could go on and on!
Robin is an amazing mentor. She always always treated me with respect, never spoke to me as if she were better than me, and always made sure I felt confident with what I was doing. She truly is an incredible person and teacher. It was an honor to have her as a mentor.
Nicole Finizio Philadelphia, PA January 1, 2017