1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?
I found my trainer by searching on Google. It was when I got my first dog and I had no idea that trainers were different so I had no idea what I was doing. But it all worked out in the end because my trainer, Ace Russell, is so amazing!!! I have met people who have paid well known trainers $90+ an hour for a private lesson to learn what Ace has taught me - specifically about interacting and understanding your dog. He just has this amazing connection and intuition when it comes to dogs and he's quite logical so I really appreciate that. I'm stubborn and if I don't think a trainer knows what they are talking about then I will refuse to listen to them (I can be quite a difficult student) but Ace is the only trainer I have ever had who's opinion I respect. I think I tend to drive other trainers crazy because if they suggest something that I know goes against Ace's philosophy, I'll ignore what they say. And then if they insist that I do what they say I will simply say, "I'll run that past Ace and if he says that makes sense, then I will try it."
Here's Ace, running Starbuck for me when I was injured. They had never run together before and Qd in 2 out of 3 runs! Should have been 3 for 3 but the crazy girl left the ring without her leash causing an NQ.
And he's pretty much a celebrity to all dogs. Starbuck is usually quiet, but the very moment she spots Ace, even if it's from 100 feet away, she will start howling and chattering and running over to him as fast as she can. And he gets that kind of reaction from most dogs.
2. The dog world is small and.... uh.... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?
Easy - I ignore them, I don't like arguing with people and I find that those who want to criticize something tend to want to argue. In fact, I don't talk to many people at trials. I think it's because dog people sometimes remind me of high school... and I hated high school. I don't like drama, I don't like gossip and I don't like cliques, which leaves only a handful of people that I will talk to at trials. And that is totally fine with me. I'd rather be hanging out in a corner with my dog by myself then hanging around people who gossip and criticize others. That's probably why I get along with Ace so well because he's also like that.
Nari and I about to run in the Grand Prix Quarterfinals at the 2011 Cynosport World Games.
I once had someone ask me what handling system I used. Since I had no idea what a handling system even was I said, "Ummm.... I don't know? The Ace system?". Then they went on to tell me how I had to use a system and which seminar I needed to go to, etc. I just blew them off. Ace has always been there for me so I don't appreciate random people coming up to me to tell me what I should or should not do. Especially if they do not know my dog and do not have that much experience.
I have been lucky to meet a great group of supportive people who have been awesome - especially because I've only ever taken private lessons and don't belong to a club. The first person who was truly supportive and nice to me (besides Ace) is Jean Lavalley and I am so grateful for all of the encouraging words she's given me. She's also an AMAZING handler so I am very lucky that we end up at a lot of the same trials so I can watch her in action!
3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e. do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)
Nope. Not unless they are a serial killer or robber or their personal life interferes with training. Of course I can't stand gossip or bashing people so I wouldn't work with a trainer who did that.
4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?
Definitely. I've learned that Nari doesn't like corrections (they slow her down because she doesn't like to make mistakes). Once I learned that I just let Nari always think she is right and things go much better. Starbuck has taught me never to take anything seriously. Took me a while to learn that from her but once I did things got a lot easier with her.
Ace, Starbuck and I work on the most dreaded obstacle - the table!
5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help?
I've only ever worked with Ace for agility. I was having trouble with Nari's confidence on the dogwalk so he told me to check out Silvia Trkman's stuff. I love how she handles her dogs and how she loves her dogs for who they are. So I watch a lot of her youtube videos and got a couple of her DVDs. I think I'm going to start trying to get to some seminars eventually....
A happy girl on the dogwalk - 2011 Cynosport World Games.